Millennium free to sell Equistar stake HOUSTON — Millennium Chemicals Inc. is free to search for a buyer of its stake in Houston-based Equistar Chemicals LP.
Millennium's partners in Equistar — Lyondell Chemical Co. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. — each said they are not interested in acquiring Millennium's 29.5 percent share of Equistar. Millennium said Jan. 31 that it presented a sales offer to the partners under the "right of first offer" provisions of the partnership agreement. Mickey Foster, Millennium vice president of corporate and investor relations, said in a telephone interview that they turned down the offer.
Foster said Millennium will continue exploratory talks with undisclosed companies that might be interested in buying its stake. Millennium has set no deadline for the sale, he said.
Millennium Chairman William Landuyt said in a news release that the right of first offer "has been a stumbling block" in the company's talks with potential buyers.
Millennium estimates fair market value of its Equistar interest to be $800 million. It announced last year its plan to sell the stake to focus on titanium dioxide and specialty chemicals. Equistar produces olefins and is the largest polyethylene producer in North America.
Lyondell of Houston holds 41 percent of Equistar, and Occidental of Dallas owns the remaining 29.5 percent.
Iselin, N.J.-based Millennium reported a loss of $288 million and sales of $1.6 billion for 1999. The loss includes a write-down of $639 million to reflect the company's adjustment of the book value of its Equistar holding.
P&G to introduce plastic food wrap
CINCINNATI, OHIO — Procter & Gamble Co. — known for its dominating presence in the cosmetics, personal-care and cleaning-goods markets — is making its entrance into plastics film with a new food wrap.
Cincinnati-based P&G, whose most-recognized brands include Tide, Oil of Olay and Crest, introduced Impress Sealing Wrap on Jan. 21 in the Grand Junction, Colo., test market.
The polyethylene film is made by P&G at an existing site in Cincinnati, under the company's tissue and towel division.
Spokesman Terry Loftus said P&G sees the product as answering consumer needs that other plastics wraps did not meet.
"We found consumers are frustrated with current plastic wraps. The wraps tend to stick and do not form an airtight seal," Loftus said in a telephone interview from Cincinnati. "To combat these problems we developed Impress, which does form a seal that sticks to a variety of surfaces.
Loftus said it is too early to examine results from the Colorado test phase, and the company is not projecting sales performance yet, he said.
P&G reported total annual sales of $38.1 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30.
Bayer, Rohm form PC, PET sheet unit
DARMSTADT, GERMANY — Europe's plastic sheet companies are continuing to consolidate, with Bayer AG and Rohm GmbH Cheische Fabrik combining their regional polycarbonate and PET extrusion operations.
The Makroform GmbH joint venture combines the companies' sheet operations and will be based in Darmstadt. Bayer will hold a majority stake in the venture, which will have annual sales of more than 100 million euros ($97 million) and 300 employees. The firms expect to seal the deal by July 1.
Bayer is contributing two affiliates to the venture: Axxis NV of Tielt, Belgium, and Carbolux SpA of Nera Montoro, Italy. Bayer acquired Axxis last year, as well as DSM Sheffield Plastics of Sheffield, Mass., and Laserlite Pty. Ltd. of Melbourne, Australia. Those U.S. and Australian units are not included in Makroform, according to Bayer.
Rohm GmbH is based in Darmstadt.
Makroform will extrude solid, twin-wall and corrugated sheet.
Bayer, a leading player in PC resin production, has annual sales of 3 billion euros ($2.9 billion). Rohm, a global player in acrylic resin, has annual sales of about 1 billion euros ($970 million).
Baxter buys French injection molder
DEERFIELD, ILL. — Baxter Healthcare Corp. has purchased a small French injection molder of medical devices for drug delivery.
Baxter of Deerfield bought 68 percent of Biodome FA of Issoire, France. Biodome molds a device that converts powdered or freeze-dried drugs into liquids just before administration, said Baxter spokeswoman Deborah Spak.
The product, called Bio-Set, works with needleless access systems and complements other intravenous and delivery technology Baxter has, she said. The product now is sold only in Europe and Baxter is not sure if it will bring it to the United States, Spak said.
Spak did not have the number of molding machines for Biodome but said the company has fewer than 50 employees. The company reported 1998 sales of $9.58 million.