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Material Insights: Three expansion projects and an acquisition

Three expansion projects and an acquisition with U.S. and European ties are featured in this week's Material Insights video.

Published: January 6, 2014 1:54 pm ET
Updated: January 6, 2014 2:13 pm ET

Three expansion projects and an acquisition with U.S. and European ties are featured in this week's Material Insights video.

First up, materials firm Plastics Color Corp. will be growing in 2014. The firm recently announced plans to add 40,000 square feet of space at its headquarters site in Calumet City, Ill. The expansion will allow the company to boost production there by 40 percent. Capacity at the site already had been increased by almost 20 percent in recent months, in response to increased customer demand for black compounds. The site also recently went to a 7-day work schedule.

The expansion will include new extrusion equipment and will allow PCC to add 7 to 10 new jobs. During 2013, PCC had grown capacity at its plant in Asheboro, N.C., by installing a pair of new twin-screw extruders. PCC also operates plants in Sun Valley, Calif., and Nanjing, China.

On the M&A front, U.S.-based private equity firm OpenGate Capital apparently has found something it likes in the European PVC market. Los Angeles-based OpenGate recently made its third investment in that sector when it bought Kem One, an insolvent PVC resin maker headquartered in Lyon, France. OpenGate bought Kem One from Swiss investment firm Klesch & Co., which had purchased it from French materials firm Arkema in 2012.

OpenGate is buying Kem One in a partnership with European businessman Alain de Krassny. The two sides had been competing to acquire Kem One before agreeing to join forces. The deal includes an option to buy Kem One’s downstream PVC extrusion business.

OpenGate already had invested in that sector when it bought PVC profile extruder Profialis in early 2013. Then, in late 2013, OpenGate acquired European compounding business Benvic from materials giant Solvay.

In London, catalyst developer Econic Technologies $8 million in new funding to help develop polymers from carbon dioxide. Econic officials said the money will allow the firm to scale up and start commercializing its technology for polyurethane polyols and long-chain polycarbonates. Those materials can replace 30-50 percent of traditional feedstocks with carbon dioxide, resulting in cost reductions of 30-40 percent, according to officials with the firm.

The investment came from U.S. financial firm Jetstream Capital and by Imperial Innovations, which is the funding arm of Imperial College London.

Finally this week, more plastic-related investment is under way in Abu Dhabi. Indorama Ventures of Thailand and Abu Dhabi National Chemicals are partnering to build a plant for plastic feedstocks paraxylene and benzene. Paraxylene is used to make PET, while benzene is a key component in styrene monomer, which is used to make polystyrene and other resins. The plant will have annual capacities of almost 3 billion pounds of paraxylene and 1.1 billion pounds of benzene.

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