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Chemtura targeting China, fast-growth markets

By: Robert Grace

June 13, 2013

GUANGZHOU, CHINA — Chemtura Corp. executives provided an update on the firm’s latest investments, expansions and products at Chinaplas, to include the start-up of commercial production at an Arkansas plant of one of its newer flame retardants, Emerald Innovation 3000.

The publicly traded, Philadelphia-based company also expects to close soon on its deal to buy the bromine assets of India’s Solaris ChemTech Industries Ltd., and said the first products should roll out of its new $95 million, multipurpose manufacturing plant in Nantong, China, by the end of 2013’s third quarter.

Keith DuPont, vice president and general manager of Chemtura’s Great Lakes Solutions business unit in West Lafayette, Ind., said the firm’s new facility in El Dorado, Ark., has begun commercial production with a nameplate capacity of at least 22 million pounds of Emerald Innovation 3000. The product, based on technology licensed from Dow Chemical Co., is said to offer producers of expanded and extruded polystyrene a brominated polymeric flame retardant that offers a more sustainable option as they transition away from hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

DuPont said that sales of the product began late last year, and that several customers are working to make the transition from HBCD before the sunset date of Aug. 21, 2015, in Europe. Additionally, he noted, “customer qualifications are accelerating both in the Americas and Japan.” He expects sales to begin in the United States and Mexico early in this year’s third quarter.

In India, Chemtura is proceeding with the acquisition it announced last September whereby it will assume control of the bromine and bromine chemicals division of Gujarat-based Solaris ChemTech. Terms were not released, but the deal includes two manufacturing facilities, a well-established research and development center, and a multi-products facility in Gujarat. The new subsidiary will be based in New Delhi, and will provide “a regional, low-cost supply for bromine,” according to Chet Cross. Cross, who relocated from Philadelphia to Shanghai this past January, is executive vice president and group president of Engineered Industrial & Performance Industrial Products.

Chemtura, which employs 4,000 and had 2012 sales of $2.6 billion, is focused on growing in the world’s fastest-growing regions. Asia Pacific is already the company’s leading region, accounting for 18 percent of group revenue, Cross said, but by 2018, it aims for the region to account for 33 percent of sales. That is one reason the firm has spent the past decade investing in China.

It registered its regional headquarters in Shanghai in 2000; opened its first China plant (in Nanjing) in 2004; registered its Nanjing application development center in 2010; broke ground on the above-mentioned plant in Nantong last year; and established a shared services center in Shanghai earlier this year.

The big Nantong plant in Jiangsu province is a three-year project and, at $95 million, represents the single largest investment by Chemtura since its formation in 2005. Cross said the plant’s first phase is “mechanically complete” and commissioning is beginning now for the anchor line of petroleum additives, plus some polyurethane plastomers.

The project’s second phase will produce more plastics-relevant products, Cross said, including organometallics and some thermoplastic polyurethane materials. The aim is for the plant to be fully operational by August 2015.

Finally, Chemtura announced May 15 it had acquired from UP Chemical Co. Ltd. the remaining 50 percent stake that it didn’t already own in South Korea’s DayStar Materials LLC. DayStar makes markets high-purity metal organic precursors for the fast-growing LED market. It had formed DayStar as a joint venture with UP Chem in 2011.