Montell Polyolefins plans to increase its presence in the burgeoning Asia-Pacific market with new joint ventures in India and Thailand.
``Asia is clearly the fastest-growing area in the world in terms of plastics, and this is our response to that growth,'' said John Purcell, spokesman for Montell's European and international divisions.
The Asian plastics industry is expanding 10-15 percent annually, Purcell said in a July 9 telephone interview from his office in Brussels, Belgium.
Both joint ventures will produce polypropylene compounds as well as the company's Catalloy-brand polymers. Montell, with North American headquarters in Wilmington, Del., is a leader in global PP production with 7.3 billion pounds of capacity.
The Thailand venture will link Montell (Thailand) Holdings BV, HMC Polymers Co. Ltd., Japan Polyolefins Co., Ltd., and Montell-JPO Co. Ltd. The new company will be known as MBJ Advanced Polymers Co. Ltd., with its initials standing for Montell Bangkok Japan.
Montell-JPO is an existing venture between Montell and Japan Polyolefins. HMC Polymers is one of Asia's largest PP makers, producing more than 700 million pounds of resin annually.
The new firm will launch construction later this year on a facility in Rayong, Thailand, that will produce about 22 million pounds of PP compounds annually. The facility, due to be operational by mid-1998, is being designed to allow capacity expansion to 66 million pounds by 2000.
The facility will be Montell's second in Thailand. The company has operated a joint venture PP plant in Map-Ta-Phut since 1985.
Company officials said the new plant will meet the rapidly expanding advanced materials needs of Thailand's automotive, appliance, construction and packaging industries.
In India, Montell will join with Machino Plastics Ltd. to operate a newly opened PP compound plant in Gurgaon. The plant's current capacity is 11 million pounds, with potential to expand to 44 million pounds.
Machino makes engineered plastic goods for the Indian automotive industry and is a major supplier of bumpers and instrument panels to Maruti Udyog, an Indian firm that is a joint venture with Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp.
Polypropylene use in India is growing 10-15 percent annually, largely through the automotive industry, according to Purcell. India's current auto production of 500,000 vehicles annually is expected to reach 800,000 in the near future, Purcell said.
Montell's alliances provide it with easier access to foreign markets, Purcell said.
``A local presence is important in dealing with local cultures,'' he added.
Montell, formed in 1995 through a merger of Royal Dutch/Shell's PP operations and Italy's Montedison SpA, also operates manufacturing sites throughout Europe and North and South America.