A recent report in Japan Chemical Week claiming that Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. has decided to sell Pacific Western Extruded Plastics Co. in Eugene, Ore., is purely a rumor, according to James Rash, president of Pacific Western, more commonly known as PW Pipe.
Rash said in a Nov. 13 telephone interview that the Japanese publication had printed a similar story six months ago. The most recent story added details about how Mitsubishi was reorganizing its vinyl chloride monomer group.
``This magazine is really kind of a rumor magazine, then it gets translated in the U.S. and becomes fact,'' he said. ``I don't know how they get off doing this in Tokyo.''
Tommy Wada, director of general affairs for Mitsubishi Chemical America Inc. in White Plains, N.Y., echoed Rash's sentiments. ``I don't know where [Japan Chemical Week] got that information.''
Mitsubishi Chemical America acquired PW Pipe and its six West Coast plants in July 1995.
PW Pipe is one of the largest producers of PVC pipe in the United States, serving the potable water, sewer, irrigation, plumbing and power/communications markets.
The company ranked 11th in Plastics News' 1998 survey of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders, with estimated sales of $202 million. According to Plastics News estimates, those sales have dropped from $212 million in 1997, and $222 million in 1996.
PVC pipe prices have fallen in recent years, reflecting lower prices for PVC resin. Publicly held PVC pipe companies also have complained that their margins have shrunk.
A representative from a competing pipe company, who asked not to be identified, said he confirmed that Mitsubishi intends to sell PW Pipe. He said that at least one of the company's customers is aware of the situation.
Another competitor who had heard PW Pipe was on the block said he did not know who might be interested in buying the Oregon company. But he said it would be a good opportunity for a resin firm interested in integrating forward.
``There is no question that the PVC business is in dire straits in Japan,'' Rash said. ``It's in dire straits in the U.S., too, but it's worse in Japan. Customers are nervous anyway. This just fuels the fire.''
The Japan Chemical Week report said Mitsubishi Chemical also plans to streamline vinyl chloride operations and dissolve its Polymer Products Co. in an effort to make its operations more efficient and balance its books by fiscal 1999. With the dissolution of Polymer Products, Mitsubishi will set up a Polymer Project department and a Foamed Resin department to supervise the parent company's polymer operations.