Equistar boosts feedstock holdings
HOUSTON — Equistar Chemicals, the petrochemicals giant formed by last year's joint venture of Lyondell Petrochemical Co. and Millennium Chemicals Inc., vastly has expanded its feedstock position by adding Occidental Chemical Corp.'s ethylene, propylene, ethylene oxide and derivatives businesses.
The move makes Houston-based Equistar the world's second-largest ethylene maker with 11.4 billion pounds of annual capacity, and the third-largest propylene maker, with almost 5 billion pounds of annual capacity. The deal includes Occidental's olefins plants in Corpus Christi and Chocolate Bayou, Texas, and Lake Charles, La., which produce 3.65 billion pounds of ethylene and about 1.6 billion pounds of propylene per year.
When the deal closes later this year, Houston-based Lyondell will own 41 percent of Equistar, with Millennium of Iselin, N.J., and Dallas-based Occidental each owning 29.5 percent.
Omega forms British tooling venture
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND — Toolmaker Omega Plastics Inc. has opened its first European facility by forming a joint venture with a British company.
Omega, based in Mount Clemens, Mich., will launch its British division April 1 to make prototype bridge-to-production tools. The firm will serve as majority owner in the facility, to be called Omega Plastics UK Ltd., said Omega President Tom Kaczperski. The company is shifting equipment to the existing plant, on the grounds of Express Holdings of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Express Holdings, a tooling and low-volume parts maker, holds a minority share. The 5,600-square-foot plant will serve automotive, electronics, computer and business machine fields.
Dow files suit against Union Pacific
ANGELTON, TEXAS — Dow Chemical Co. fired a major legal salvo March 17 against Union Pacific Railroad Co. when it filed a lawsuit in a Texas district court seeking payment of damages Dow has racked up from massive rail congestion on UP lines.
Dow of Midland, Mich., estimates service disruptions have cost it more than $25 million in more-expensive alternate shipping arrangements, lost production and sales and various other losses. In the suit, filed in Brazoria County District Court in Angelton, Dow also claims that Omaha, Neb.-based UP has misrepresented the effects of its 1996 merger with Southern Pacific and its plans to recover from the current crisis.
UP responded March 18 by saying it is ``disappointed that Dow Chemical Co. has filed a lawsuit over rail service issues before the railroad could fully consider its claim.'' UP said Dow first presented its claims to railroad officials on Feb. 27.
``It was our understanding with them that we agreed to get back to them within 30 days,'' UP spokesman John Bromley said March 19. ``But they elected to sue us instead.''
A Dow spokeswoman said that at the Feb. 27 meeting, UP ``made it clear they did not intend to fully reimburse [Dow's] damages,'' prompting Dow to file the suit.
Pescor awarded damages in Berry suit
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — Pescor Plastics Inc. was awarded $150,000 in damages in a long-standing drink-cup patent infringement lawsuit filed by Berry Sterling Corp.
The ruling by the U.S. District Court in Alexandria invalidated Berry's patent for the ornamental design of its large injection molded cup that fits car cup holders. The judgment, handed down Feb. 25, ruled the patent invalid because of functionality and obviousness of design.
Berry Sterling is a Winchester, Va.-based unit of Berry Plastics Corp. of Evansville, Ind. Berry President Martin Imbler said the company plans to file an appeal.
``We anticipate an appeal,'' said Tim Kilpatrick, Pescor president. ``However, our lawyers have told me that the likelihood of overturning this ruling is very remote.''
Berry sued Fort Worth, Texas-based Pescor in 1995.
Foamex considers Trace's takeover bid
LINWOOD, PA. — Foamex International Inc.'s largest shareholder made an unsolicited bid to buy the firm for $17 a share—a 22.5 percent premium over the Nasdaq closing price March 13 of $13.875.
Trace International Holdings Inc. currently owns about 46 percent of Linwood-based Foamex. Foamex said in a March 16 news release that its directors will retain independent investment banking advisers and legal counsel to assess the fairness of Trace's proposal to other shareholders.
Foamex also announced a new chief operating officer, Rolf E. Christensen. He replaces Salvatore J. Bonanno, who resigned March 13 as president, COO and a director. Christensen had been executive vice president, technical products.
For fiscal 1997, Foamex reported a loss of $42.3 million, compared with a loss of $83.1 million in 1996. It reported 1997 sales of $931 million; 1996 sales were $926.4 million.