Belgian PVC, pipe and profiles producer Tessenderlo Group is planning a major shake-up of its troubled chemicals division with the loss of as many as 240 jobs in Europe.
Restructuring of chemical plants in Belgium alone is likely to lead to around 197 of the expected layoffs, warned Brussels-based Tessenderlo.
The group has seen the results of its chemical business ``nose-dive'' since 2000, something it blames on changing market conditions with soaring raw-material prices and cutthroat worldwide competition.
Tessenderlo expects to save 30 million euros ($37 million) a year beginning in 2007. The firm will merge Belgian chemical operations Limburgse Vinyl Maatschappij and Tessenderlo Chemie, both in the city of Tessenderlo, and Tessenderlo Chemie in Ham, Belgium.
LVM is Europe's second-biggest vinyl chloride monomer plant, with a capacity of 1.2 billion pounds per year, according to the group.
Tessenderlo intends to move 49 employees from Brussels to the city of Tessenderlo. The group's PVC research unit will move from Verneuil, France, to Belgium, and its chemicals sales force will be reorganized. Tessenderlo stressed it is still committed to developing operations in Europe and has no plans to transfer activities to low-wage countries. The chemicals business has production units outside Belgium in the Netherlands, Italy and France.
In 2005, the group, which employs more than 8,000 worldwide, reported sales of 2.1 billion euros ($2.6 billion).