PET resin leader Eastman Chemical Co. is disputing a published report that it plans to sell or spin off its PET business.
The Bloomberg News item, which also ran in the Oct. 21 New York Times, attributes comments on the sale and spin off options to Eastman officials who met with investment analysts Oct. 20.
Eastman spokeswoman Martha Lawson said executives including Virgil Stephens, chief financial officer, told analysts the company ``would continue to explore all options about improving the PET business,'' but did not specify selling or spinning off as options.
``Our criteria is that the options be value-added,'' Lawson said in an Oct. 21 telephone interview from Eastman's Kingsport, Tenn., headquarters. ``But we're not prepared to say if selling or spinning off are value-added options.''
Eastman is the global leader in PET resin production, with almost 2.5 billion pounds of annual capacity. The firm controls almost 40 percent of the U.S. PET market. PET use is focused on soft drink bottles and other food packaging.
PET resin prices rebounded somewhat this summer, gaining 11 cents per pound after dropping more than 30 cents per pound in 1996. However, some industry sources have indicated some of that increase already may be slipping away. Eastman and other major PET makers have announced a 3 cent-per-pound increase effective Nov. 1.
Eastman's PET business accounted for $900 million of the company's $4.78 billion 1996 sales figure. Sales for 1997 have totaled $3.7 billion through nine months — $200,000 behind the firm's pace at the same point last year.