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Clariant has high hopes for HiFormer

By: Frank Esposito

October 18, 2013

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — Clariant International Ltd. (Hall 8A/J11) plans to elevate its liquid masterbatch business with HiFormer, a new service unveiled by the firm at K 2013.

The system eventually will include all of the firm’s liquid masterbatch customers, Hans Bohnen, vice president and head of the masterbatches business unit, said in an Oct. 16 interview at the Düsseldorf show.

“We’re moving beyond the coloration of masterbatches,” he said. “Our goal is to double the [liquid masterbatch] business.”

HiFormer will tap into a global production and service network that includes 11 sites — three each in North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific, as well as single sites in Middle East/Africa and Europe.

Services provided by HiFormer will include product development, color matching and on-site implementation. Clariant’s liquid color products allow wider use in most polymers and manufacturing processes, officials said.

Muttenz, Switzerland-based Clariant entered the liquid color market in 2008 when it acquired Rite Systems of West Chicago, Ill. Bohnen said that, globally, liquid color is growing at more than double the rate of solid masterbatches. Although he said liquid “is still a niche” when compared with solids, it’s finding a home in packaging and consumer goods.

Liquid color also is increasingly popular in developing regions of the world, Bohnen said. “Those regions are more customer-driven and more eager to try new things,” he added. “And new manufacturing sites are free to make a decision on whether to use liquid or solid color. There’s no bias.”

Globally, masterbatch growth industrywide and at Clariant should check in at 4-6 percent in 2013, improving to 6-8 percent in 2014, Bohnen said. Those rates will be higher in Asia and other emerging regions, but lower in mature regions such as North America and Europe, he added.

At an Oct. 16 news conference at the show, Clariant officials also outlined some of the firm’s recent growth moves:

* Forming a masterbatch joint venture with Tasnee & Sahara Ole¬fins Co. of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

* Investing 10 million euros (US$13 million) in a masterbatch plant in Riyadh.

* Acquiring the organic pigment business of Jiangsu, China-based supplier Jiangsu Multicolor Fine Chemical Co. Ltd.

* Building a new world-scale pigment plant in Zhenjiang, China.

* Extending a pigment lab in Shanghai.

* Increasing capacity by 50 percent at a pigment plant in Roha, India.

* Building a new pigment plant in Tangerang, Indonesia.

* Opening a 100 million-euro ($130 million) innovation center in Frankfurt, Germany. The center represents the largest single R&D investment in Clariant history.

Executive committee member Christian Kohlpaintner stressed the importance of emerging markets in the Middle East, China and India to Clariant.

“The future of the company will be decided in these markets,” he said.

Clariant operates 11 business units and posted sales of about $6.6 billion in 2012.