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Melbourne, Australia-based Kemcor Australia Pty. Ltd. plans to acquire the Australian plastics operations of Hoechst AG, to establish what it claims will be the country's largest resins business.

Kemcor Australia is a joint venture between Mobil Chemical Co. of Pittsford, N.Y., and Exxon Chemical Co. of Houston.

Melbourne-based Hoechst Australia Ltd., a unit of Hoechst AG of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, manufactures polyethylene and polypropylene resins at Altona, a western suburb of Melbourne.

Robert Fairley, Kemcor managing director, said Kemcor's parent companies signed an agreement to buy the Altona op- erations. He said the purchase would double Kemcor's total PE and PP production to 573 million pounds a year.

A Kemcor spokeman said no purchase price is being released; however, an industry source told a national newspaper that the price is probably about A$80 million (US$60.8 million).

The acquisition is still subject to review by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. Pending approval, consolidated operations are scheduled to start in April.

Jens Mohr, Hoechst Australia managing director, said the consolidation of Kemcor and Hoechst's plastics operations is necessary for the Australian plastics industry to compete with world-scale plants being built in Asia.

``Rationalization of the plastics industry has been an issue in Australia for the last five years, due to the removal of tariff protection and the need to achieve greater economies of scale,'' he said. ``This was the only way to secure the long-term viability of the industry.''