Asian currency crisis inspires partnership
ANSAN, SOUTH KOREA — Dutch chemicals firm DSM NV has taken advantage of battered assets in the Asian currency crisis to form a joint venture with Seoul, South Korea-based Kohap Group to manufacture and sell engineering plastics in South Korea.
Under the agreement, DSM Engineering Plastics of Sittard, the Netherlands, and Kohap Engineering Plastics will own a respective 51 and 49 percent stake in DSM Kohap Engineering Plastics Ltd., to be based in Ansan, DSM said. No dollar values were given.
The company's agreement with the Kohap conglomerate is part of the latter's restructuring program, following a brush with bankruptcy. Late last year, its creditors scrambled to inject some $180 million into the debt-laden firm.
With joint ventures in China and Japan, DSM — which controls some 30 percent of the global caprolactam market — has entrenched itself in the north Asian market, industry sources say.
In China, DSM and Nanjing Chemical Industry Group, in a 60-40 joint venture, are planning to take over the operations of a 110 million-pound-per-year caprolactam plant in Nanjing by 1999 and expand production in 2000.
DSM's Japanese investments include a recently established venture between DSM Solutech and Tokyo-based Teijin Ltd., through which the 50-50 partners will make and sell ultrathin polymer films in and near Japan.
English firm suffers baby product slump
LONDON — British plastics molder Mayborn plc of London has been forced to adopt radical damage-control measures in its baby products division after a severe slump in its 1997 profit.
Fierce competition, runaway costs and a serious failure in inventory control slashed the division's 1997 operating profit by 53 percent, the company reported.
Mayborn blamed the £4.5 million ($7.33 million) total company profit, a 45 percent plunge, on the baby product problems.
Following an in-depth review of operations at Jackel International Ltd. of Cramlington, England, inventory worth $1.3 million had to be written off. The division manufactures baby accessories, including bottles, feeding cups, pacifiers and hair-care products for European, Far Eastern and domestic markets.
Mayborn in 1998 expects to feel the benefits of recent investments, including a baby product molding plant established in Guangdong, China, in 1995, it reported.
Singapore molder sees sales fall 19%
SINGAPORE—Singapore-based injection molder Meiban Plastic Ltd. posted full-year profit of $1.94 million in 1997, which is 7.2 percent lower than the previous year.
Total sales plummeted 19 percent over the same period to $18 million, falling in tandem with Singapore's electronics industry in the first half of last year. Sales only started picking up in the third quarter, according to Meiban, which is listed on Singapore's secondary bourse.
The firm's latest financial figures stand in stark contrast to its 95 percent profit jump in 1996, and reflect the general malaise among Singapore's electronics-dependent injection molders.
As a result of higher borrowing costs and a sluggish stock market, Meiban was forced to shelve an expansion plan for its Singapore factory and forfeit a land lease at a loss of $360,000.
It originally had intended to buy nine new presses to meet projected demand. At a later date, Meiban will shift its planned expansion to Shanghai at a cost of about $2 million, to fulfill commitments to a major customer and tap the country's growth, according to the company.
Excluding the extraordinary loss, Meiban has fared well, analysts said. Its total pre-tax profit fell just 1.6 percent thanks to cost cutting and added productivity.
Firm meets PVC ban by using substitute
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — Shade Structures Pacific Pty. Ltd. of Brisbane has made a PVC-free tension membrane sail structure to comply with the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games' PVC-free rule.
Taso Kouvaras, Shade's director, said the firm normally uses a PVC coating. For the Olympic site, a polyolefin coating was used on the polyester structure.
Kouvaras said Shade will use PVC coating on other sail structures because of its accessibility. Shade is a firm made up of architects and engineers.
The sail structure, suspended below a six-story arch, will provide an all-weather open-air events theater at the Olympic site.
Shade has opened a U.S. office to undertake construction of a tension membrane structure at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.