BASF AG has sold its North American polystyrene business to Ineos Americas LLC, the North American unit of British chemical maker Ineos.
The sale includes BASF's 850 million-pound-capacity plant in Joliet, Ill. The site employs 140 and produces general-purpose and high-impact PS. BASF bought the Joliet plant from Mobil Chemical Co. in 1992. The business ranks as North America's fourth-largest PS producer with a market share of about 14 percent.
No purchase price was disclosed. BASF global styrenics President Fred Baumgartner said the company remains committed to styrenics, but the Joliet site ``is no longer consistent with BASF's site-integration strategy.''
Ludwigshafen, Germany-based BASF will continue to make PS in other regions, officials said. The deal does not include 300 million pounds of PS capacity operated by BASF in Altam¡ra, Mexico.
``BASF will continue to market and sell polystyrene in Mexico,'' BASF spokesman John Schmidt said in an April 27 phone interview. ``But there are provisions that limit BASF from selling polystyrene in the U.S. and Canada.''
Industry insiders said BASF has agreed to supply styrene monomer feedstock to the Joliet plant, but Schmidt declined to confirm any such arrangement.
Lyndhurst, England-based Ineos employs 7,000 worldwide and posted sales of more than $7 billion in 2004.
Industry insiders said the move was somewhat surprising, since none of Ineos' existing businesses have a direct link to the styrenics chain. The firm is the world's largest producer of phenol and acetone and is majority owner in European Vinyls Corp., Europe's largest PVC maker.
In an April 28 phone interview from Lyndhurst, Ineos director Andy Currie said: ``We're already familiar with dealing in bulk plastics and bulk chemicals. We think we can make a success of it.''
Ineos, privately held by management and employees, already operates an organic chemicals plant in Joliet. The firm's other U.S. holdings include a massive phenol plant in Mobile, Ala., and specialty chemical sites in Texas and Louisiana.
Even after the Ineos deal, BASF will rank as the world's third-largest PS maker with a market share of about 9 percent.