Japan's Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. and China's Sinopec have signed what they are calling a strategic business partnership, building on an existing joint venture in polypropylene compounding and their plans for a Chinese joint venture making polycarbonate and bisphenol A.
The April 14 announcement comes on the heels of Japanese newspaper reports that Tokyo-based Mitsubishi is considering exiting the polystyrene and PVC businesses in favor of more advanced materials in areas like solar cells and pharmaceuticals.
The firms said the partnership could cover a broad range of potential businesses, as well as joint research and projects, raw material and finished product supplies, engineering and logistics.
In an interview, Mitsubishi spokesman Takuya Yorozu said Mitsubishi and Sinopec are not investing in each other. Mitsubishi is interested in expanding its presence in China, he said.
The partnership will speed up their expansion of business and shift to higher-value-added fields, the news release said.
The deal with Beijing-based Sinopec comes as Mitsubishi is in the midst of a broader restructuring. In December, the firm said it was targeting growth in China's polycarbonate market, and has shut production at PS and PP plants. It is looking at consolidating polyethylene production and shifting to higher-value products, as commodity petrochemical markets are increasingly dominated by Middle Eastern producers.
Mitsubishi said it also is looking at growing markets such as green plastics, lithium ion battery materials, organic photovoltaic modules and chemical components for automobiles.
It followed that up in February with an announcement that it was shutting down production of an unprofitable Japanese plant making PET raw material terephthalic acid and shifting those operations to Singapore and India.