NatureWorks LLC has denied that it has plans to establish a joint venture in Thailand with Charoen Pokphand Group.
``There is no joint venture. There is no study. We don't even sell resin directly to CP Group. At best, they can be described as a second-party-removed potential customer,'' said Mary Rosenthal, global communications leader at polylactic acid manufacturer NatureWorks.
On June 20 the Bangkok Post published an article claiming that the companies were looking at a partnership.
According to the newspaper, Chaipong Chainapaporn, senior vice president of CP Group subsidiary CPPC Public Co., said the firm was evaluating a 2 billion baht (US$60 million) joint venture investment to build a 52.9 million pound-per-year PLA plant in Thailand. The plant would use technology from Minnetonka, Minn.-based NatureWorks.
The Bangkok Post's reporting has since been published by several news organizations around the globe.
Rosenthal said CP Group has asked the Bangkok Post to retract the story, and a letter from Chainapaporn was published in the newspaper June 27 to that effect, saying it is not in partnership with NatureWorks and does not buy polymer from it.
However, even following publication of that letter, a copy of the Bangkok Post article was posted in the ``News Room'' section of the CP Group Web site. (It has since been taken down.)
NatureWorks made its denial the day after it announced the appointment of a new president and chief executive officer. Marc Verbruggen takes over the role from Dennis McGrew, who had held the post since the beginning of 2006.
McGrew will remain with the company in an advisory capacity, according to NatureWorks.
Verbruggen joins the firm from Toho Tenax America Inc., where he held the post of president since 2004. Before that, he worked for Teijin Aramid in the Netherlands.
Teijin Ltd., together with Cargill Inc., have been joint owners of NatureWorks since October.
Rosenthal also said the commissioning of the second 154 million-pounds-per-year line at the company's facility in Blair, Neb., is still in progress and on track.
She said the first phase should be complete toward the end of this year, with the second phase scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2009.
Once the second line is in operation, the Blair plant will be able to produce Ingeo PLA resin at its full 308 million-pounds-a-year nameplate capacity.
European Plastics News is a sister publication to Plastics News.