Supplying advanced composites for Asia's aircraft market is an important strategic theme in the pending Hexcel-Ciba composites consolidation. ``We expect broader access to Asia,'' said Stanley Sherman, chief financial officer of the U.S. entity Ciba-Geigy Corp. in Ardsley, N.Y. Now, Ciba Composites, of Anaheim, Calif., operates eight Asia-Pacific sales offices.
``Asia is going to be the aerospace market of growth in the next five to 10 years,'' said Stephen Forsyth, vice president of international operations for Hexcel Corp. ``The trend is to try to put parts manufacturing in the country of the customer.''
Forsyth said Hexcel and Ciba sell structural materials to several Chinese aircraft operations and, together, the firms will ``better be able'' to penetrate this market with their financial and human resources. For either company, ``it would be a major undertaking alone,'' he said. ``Nobody makes advanced composites for aerospace in China.''
Forsyth said Japanese companies sell composites into China ``for production of golf shafts and sporting goods'' but ``no aerospace composite materials to our knowledge.''
The 1995 market outlook from Boeing Co.'s Commercial Aircraft Group says China's economy ``is expected to lead the world by growing 8.7 percent per year'' over the second half of the 1990s, and that South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong ``will realize an average growth of 6.2 percent per year.''
Showing the country's importance, competing aircraft makers Boeing, Airbus Industrie and McDonnell Douglas Corp. each named presidents in China and are starting spare parts plants, training programs and component and subassembly facilities.
Hexcel has one Asian operation, a 1990 joint venture with Dainippon Ink & Chemicals Inc. The venture, known as DIC-Hexcel Ltd., produces and sells Nomex honeycomb, advanced composites and decorative laminates for the Japanese markets.
On July 11, Hexcel of Pleasanton, Calif., and Ciba-Geigy Ltd. of Basel, Switzerland, announced plans to combine, by year's end, their advanced composite, honeycomb, reinforcement fabric and structural component businesses into a new Hexcel Corp. that would have more than $600 million in annual sales.