Arkema made its debut on the global plastics and chemicals stage at K 2004, promising a bright future from businesses spun off from the chemicals unit of Courbevoie, France-based oil giant Total SA.
The new, Paris-based firm consists of three Total segments:
* Vinyl products, including PVC, PVC compounds, pipes and profiles.
* Industrial chemicals, including fluoropolymers and Plexiglas- and Altuglas-brand acrylic resins and sheet.
* Performance products, including technical polymers such as nylons 11 and 12.
Combined, the units generate about 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in annual sales and operate 90 plants with more than 19,000 employees. Arkema Group still is owned by Total shareholders. Total veteran Thierry Le Henaff will serve as Arkema's first chairman and chief executive officer.
In the Plexiglas line, Arkema will add coextrusion capacity in Kensington, Conn., in early 2005, General Manager Bertrand Repelin said at an Oct. 22 news conference in Dusseldorf. The new firm also will increase sheet extrusion capacity and add several employees in Matamoros, Mexico, in the same time frame.
Overall, 25 percent of Arkema's sales and 14 percent of its employees hail from the United States. Ten of Arkema's 90 plants are in Asia, but Le Henaff said the company has high hopes for the region, expecting to double its sales there to 1 billion euros by 2010.
``Total had too broad of a portfolio and needed to reduce,'' Le Henaff said. ``Now, Arkema is a mix of cyclical and noncyclical businesses.''
Arkema also shone a spotlight on several new products and advances during K 2004, including:
* PVC compounds for cosmetics packaging.
* Acrylic nanostructured polymers for use in cosmetics, additives and lubricants.
* Capstock multilayer technology to combine acrylic sheet with ABS, high-impact polystyrene or PVC in panels for recreational vehicles, personal watercraft and kayaks.
* Rilsan-brand nylon 11 for pipes and hoses used in beer production. The material doesn't affect the taste of beer and has excellent barrier properties to carbon dioxide, according to the company.
* Kynar-brand fluoropolymers with improved adhesion performance.