A major new global player has emerged in PET resin production, with Shell Chemical Co.'s Feb. 3 announcement of the sale of its polyester operations to Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi. The modest, family-owned Tortona, Italy-based firm pulled off a coup in taking over Shell's world-ranked research, production and sales network facilities, including production plants in the United States, Mexico, Britain and Italy. Terms were not disclosed.
M&G, a producer of bottle-grade PET resin, bottle preforms, sheet and film — until now only in Italy — will triple its $300 million annual sales and boost its annual resin capacity from 382 million pounds to nearly 1.5 billion pounds.
M&G Managing Director Guido Ghisolfi said his company intends to capitalize on its own leadership in applied research for PET and on Shell's barrier research with PEN.
"Since Shell put its PET operations for sale, we thought, as we are pioneers of PET, it was a good idea to acquire them. We've been making preforms for bottles for a long time, and we have a good idea of customer needs," Ghisolfi said in a telephone interview.
The Italian group has a track record in PET dating back to 1982, when it established one of the first solid state PET operations in Europe.
Ghisolfi said his brother Marco is likely to move to Houston to run Shell's American operations.
M&G has been looking to expand its PET operations outside Europe, including in the United States and South America. Ghisolfi said one benefit to Shell of choosing M&G was that his firm will not have any overlap of operations or manpower, thus saving jobs. M&G will take advantage of the existing Shell marketing and distribution infrastructure, particularly in North America.
Ghisolfi added that M&G will be in the front line for establishing a PET plant in Brazil, once demand in that market picks up again.
Shell had purchased the bulk of its PET business in 1992 from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. of Akron, Ohio.
Included in the sale are Shell's Point Pleasant, W.Va., plant, with annual capacity of 628 million pounds; a newly constructed 232 million-pound-per-year plant in Altamira, Mexico; and a 66 million-pound-per-year plant in Scunthorpe, England.
The deal also includes Shell's Sipet operation in Frosinone, Italy, which was once a joint venture with M&G. The plant has annual capacity of 419 million pounds per year.
Shell's packaging-grade resins include Cleartuf for beverage and food packaging; Hipertuf polyethylene naphthalate for high-fill temperatures and high-barrier requirements; and Traytuf, the amorphous and crystaline PET for deli and packaged meal applications.
M&G's operations include:
Cobarr SpA of Anagni, near Rome, which produces up to 154 million pounds of PET resin and 750 million preforms annually. The plant last year began making PET foam resin, for which it has a annual capacity of 23 million pounds.
Nuroll SpA of Pignataro Maggiore, near Naples, which produces 33 million pounds per year of PET film, including biaxially oriented PET grades.
A 25 percent share of Italpet Preforme SpA of Pallanza, which has annual capacity of 220 million pounds of bottle-grade resin and 1.5 million preforms. A partner in the venture includes Marubeni Corp. of Tokyo.
M&G also has a cellulose acetate resin plant in Pallanza and a research and development center in Pozzilli.
M&G was one of three bidders for the PET and PEN resin operations. The others were Indo-Rama Synthetics of Jakarta, Indonesia, and KoSa Inc. of Houston, a joint venture owned by Koch Industries Inc. of Wichita, Kan., and Grupo Xtra of Mexico City.