A Brazilian industrial group, best known for its activity in the paper sector, now is making a run in the plastic resins and petrochemicals business. Companhia Suzano de Papel e Celulose of SÃo Paulo, Brazil, which produces pulp and 573,196 tons per year of paper and cartonboard, also is a partner in joint ventures in two of Brazil's top producers of polyethylene and polypropylene.
Suzano has a 35 percent share in Politeno Industria e Comercio SA, which runs two PE plants with combined capacity of 297,621 tons at the Camacari petrochemicals complex.
The SÃo Paulo group also holds a 34 percent share in Polipropileno SA, with three plants - in Camacari, SÃo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro - that produce PP. The first two (Polibrasil) have a combined capacity of 275,575 tons per year while the third (Braspol) can make 165,345 tons per year of resin.
In addition, in 1992 Suzano acquired, through its participation in a consortium, a 20.4 percent share in the former state-owned synthetic rubber producer Petroflex Ind£stria e Comcrcio SA, with its production capacity of 253,529 tons per year.
Suzano's newly appointed board president, Max Feffer, stated earlier this year that his group means to make the petrochemicals business an immediate priority.
In late August, resin and other secondary chemical producing clients of Copene, the primary petrochemicals firm run by Petroquisa, the petrochemicals arm of state oil giant Petrobras, bought control of Copene. The state retains 15 percent of Copene.
Through the holding company Nordeste Qu¡mica SA, the client firms, including those part owned by Suzano, raised their participation in Copene from 48 percent to 58 percent at a privatization ``auction.''
Copene produces more than 1 million tons per year of ethylene, about 550,000 tons per year of propylene and 165,345 tons per year of butadiene, used to make certain rubber materials.
Suzano plans to bid for a further 34 percent share in the resin firm Polipropileno when Petroquisa's state holding is privatized at the end of November, according to Jose Antonio Carvalho Silva, manager of Suzano's Rio de Janeiro-based petrochemicals division.
Meanwhile, the capacity at the two plants of the joint venture Politeno is being raised by 33,069 tons per year to 330,690 tons per year before year's end with a US$12 million investment. Other shareholders apart from Suzano include Bano Economico (35 percent) and a joint holding of 30 percent of Japanese firms Sumitomo and trading company Itochu.
A further expansion is being studied by the Rio de Janeiro PP plant of Braspol involving a rise from 165,345 tons per year to 198,414 tons per year. No completion date has been decided.
Expansion by the resin producers reflects growing demand for plastics, particularly in packaging and automotive sectors in Brazil.