DALLAS — Alpha/Owens Corning LLC soon will be Alpha/(fill in the blank), according to recent statements from both sides of the unsaturated polyester joint venture.
Owens Corning formally announced in a Jan. 22 news release it wants to sell its half of the partnership. Chief Executive Officer Glen Hiner also acknowledged his firm's intention to exit the resin business during a Jan. 20 interview at the International Builders' Show in Dallas.
``The divestiture probably will be complete in the first half of 1998,'' Hiner said.
The announcements reinforced Owens Corning's earlier pledges that it planned to divest nonstrategic assets. Owens Corning, which just reported $4.37 billion in 1997 sales, has focused its business on construction materials such as its famous pink fiberglass insulation and vinyl siding, and glass reinforcing fibers for the composites industry.
Alpha/Owens Corning's top management officials also addressed the pending change at a Jan. 20 news conference during the International Composites Exposition in Nashville.
``The new partner has not been identified,'' Gerald Griffith, CEO of A/OC, said at the news conference. ``Owens Corning has just begun the process.''
Griffith said he believed the new partner will not be one of the other five major North American producers of unsaturated polyester resins.
``My prediction is that there will be no more consolidation in North America,'' Griffith said, adding that the new partner probably will have an ``international flavor.''
One likely international suitor — often mentioned by other industry sources — could be chemical major DSM NV of Heerlen, the Netherlands, which operates an unsaturated polyester joint venture in eastern Germany with BASF AG of Ludwigshafen, Germany. Alpha/Owens Corning already has technology-sharing and tolling agreements with DSM.
Griffith also said ties between Owens Corning and Alpha would survive any change in A/OC's ownership structure.
``Our relationship with Owens Corning — in terms of infrastructure development, technology and research — will continue,'' he said. ``Where there are market and technical synergies, we will continue to take advantage of those.''
Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning joined with privately held Alpha Corp. of Collierville, Tenn., in 1994. Before the joint venture, each company operated several small resin plants in addition to their other businesses.
The future buyer of the OC portion of A/OC will get half interest in a company that will have the capacity to churn out 630 million pounds of thermosetting unsaturated polyester and vinyl ester resins per year by 1999. A/OC in November announced plans to expand production at its Collierville production facility and its own joint venture with Mexicana de Resinas SA de CV in Mexico City.
The company also recently announced a 50-50 resin joint venture with Sentrachem Ltd. in Durban, South Africa.
In addition to its involvement in the A/OC venture, Alpha Corp. produces laminated circuit boards through its Glassteel Industrial Laminates division and pigment dispersions and pigment pastes through its Chromatek division.
Griffith, who was president and chief operating officer of Alpha before joining A/OC, said Alpha ``remains committed'' to the resin business as well as A/OC's current management team.