Kraton Polymers LLC has completed expanding its plant in Berre, France, and is promoting its new line of Kraton A styrenic block copolymers.
The Berre site recently gained more than 5 million pounds of capacity. A larger expansion in Belpre, Ohio, is set to be completed by mid-2004.
Production of Kraton A, the third product family for Houston-based Kraton, began in late 2002, but now is reaching greater commercialization, said Garret Davies, vice president of the Americas for the Kraton G line.
Initially focused in the compounding area, Kraton A's first commercial use has been in an overmolding application on an industrial tool. The material offers processing advantages such as better flow and improved low-shear processing, as well as design advantages such as improved adhesion to polar substrates and better mold definition.
Kraton A is being made at the Belpre plant, but can be produced at other Kraton sites if demand warrants. Kraton materials rarely are used as stand-alone products, but instead are used to modify or enhance other materials.
Kraton also recently reorganized its compounds and polymer modification unit - the ``traditional plastics'' part of its business that brings in about one-third of total sales.
The remainder of Kraton sales comes from asphalt modifiers, roofing materials and similar uses, the company said.
The organizational changes created a compounds and personal-hygiene unit headed by Jay Flint, and a packaging and polymer modification segment led by Tracy Baugh.
The split ``gives [Kraton] more focus and responsiveness to certain markets,'' Davies said at NPE 2003, held June 23-27 in Chicago.
Flint said the compounds/personal-hygiene area is working in automotive, consumer goods, toys and medical markets, as well as in elastomeric films.
Opportunities for Kraton in packaging and polymer modification include food containers and packaging film, according to the company.
Kraton operates six plants worldwide, with about 700 million pounds of capacity.
The company employs 950 and posted sales of about $650 million in 2002.
Ripplewood Holdings LLC, the New York investment firm that bought Kraton from Royal Dutch/ Shell Group in 2001, now may be looking to sell, according to a report on the Daily Deal financial Web site.
Ripplewood bought Kraton for $520 million but now has attached an $840 million price tag to the unit, according to the July 17 report.
The report also claimed that Kraton's pretax profit has risen 20 percent since 1999 and now stands at $120 million.
Ripplewood officials declined to comment.