Montell Polyolefins and Dow Chemical Co. say a published report claiming the two firms will link to produce polypropylene is mere speculation. But they also stopped short of denying the report. A May 27 report in Chemical Week said Montell and Dow each would invest $300 million by 2000 to build six PP production facilities throughout the world.
The report cited an unidentified source who said the companies would build two PP plants in Europe, two in North America and two in the Far East at existing Dow production sites. Each plant would have the capacity to make about 440 million pounds of PP a year.
The report said Dow of Midland, Mich., would contribute production sites, propylene mon-omer and metallocene technology to the venture, while Montell of Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, would market the 2.6 billion pounds of resins and would supply its Spheripol PP process for resin production.
The report did not say if the source was an executive of either company.
Greg Larson, Montell director for business strategy, and Dow spokeswoman Mary Elizabeth Curtiss both said the report was speculative. Larson and Curtiss were contacted May 31.
``We are finalizing our plans. Until they are complete, we will have no further comment,'' Curtiss said.
She and Larson declined to comment further, and stopped short of denying the report.
The Chemical Week report provided detailed specifics about the number and size of plants, the sizes of investments and likely ownership positions, while echoing a previously published chemical industry analyst's report that indicated Montell is the leading candidate as a partner to consummate Dow's stated plan to be among the leading three producers of PP in the world within 10 years.
Balaji Singh, president of Chemical Market Resources Inc. in Houston, published a rigorous - yet speculative - analysis May 22 that said Montell - of the 10 largest producers of PP in the world - appears to have the most suitable technologies and assets to fit Dow's requirements. Neither Dow nor Montell commented on Singh's analysis.
Singh said Dow's possible choices for PP technology reduces to four major players: Amoco Chemical Co. of Alpha-retta, Ga.; Montell; Union Carbide Corp. of Danbury, Conn.; and BASF AG of Ludwigshafen, Ger-many.
``Since Union Carbide has future plans to introduce metallocene-based technologies for polyethylene, PP and ethylene-propylene rubbers, where Dow already has strong programs under way, it is less likely to be the best technology partner for Dow,'' Singh said.
``BASF technology is more suitable for smaller units, and Dow wants only world-class-capacity plants. Hence, BASF may not fit the bill.
``That leaves only Amoco Chemical Co. and Montell Poly-olefins. Both offer numerous advantages to Dow,'' Singh said in his analysis.
After weighing Amoco's strength in North America and Western Europe, its strength in fibers and random copolymers and its lack of an active metallocene catalyst program, Singh said he believes Montell is a more likely partner. Singh said that although Amoco is pursuing a metallocene catalyst program to produce elastomeric homopolymer PP, a variety of other factors make Amoco appear to be less attractive to Dow as a partner.
``Montell has a strong presence in all of the regions of the world. Montell has the best technology for impact and reactor thermoplastic olefins. Montell currently has not announced any metallocene programs that would conflict with Dow's overall presence.
``Hence, we select Montell as the first candidate, followed by Amoco, Union Carbide and BASF as suitable candidates for PP technology for Dow,'' Singh concluded.