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Asahi Kasei to buy out DuPont in Chinese polyacetal joint venture

By: Steve Toloken

June 10, 2013

Japan’s Asahi Kasei Group and DuPont Co. plan to part ways in their 9-year-old joint venture making polyacetal copolymer resin in China, with the companies announcing June 10 that Asahi Kasei will buy DuPont’s 50 percent share of the venture.

Terms were not disclosed and both companies said the ownership transfer of the facility, in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, needs approval from the Chinese government.

Tokyo-based Asahi Kasei said the move would reinforce its position as the world’s only maker of both copolymer and homopolymer polyacetal, and allow it to expand its business in Asia.

Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont said the decision was part of a strategy to focus on the homopolymer acetal market.

The facility, called Asahi-DuPont POM (Zhangjiagang) Co. Ltd., has a production capacity of 20,000 metric tons per year, with a capital investment of $32 million (196.2 million Chinese yuan).

Asahi Kasei suggested that having full ownership would give it advantages in offering a wider range of differentiated polyacetal products.

“Polyacetal has a distinctive market because it cannot be easily replaced by other materials,” Asahi Kasei said. “In China and other regions of Asia, demand growth for polyacetal is forecasted in automotive applications.”

DuPont said in a separate statement that it would keep supplying the Chinese market with its Delrin-brand acetal homopolymer from its facility in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and other locations. It said it would “continue to strengthen its supply chain capabilities to further increase the volumes of Delrin sourced locally within China.”

It said polyacetal homopolymers are typically used in high-performance automotive, industrial and consumer product applications, including safety systems and motors.

The Zhangjiagang operation began making acetal resins in 2004.

The companies did not say when the ownership change would take effect. Asahi Kasei said the timing depends on Chinese government approvals.

The Japanese firm said the Zhangjiagang factory would become part of its performance plastics business.