Materials giant Solvay SA has completed its split into two separate companies, including one that makes plastics and composites.
Shareholders of Brussels-based Solvay approved the split on Dec. 8. Officials said in a news release that the split was "massively approved" and that the vote had "record shareholder participation." The split went into effect on Dec. 9, with one company retaining the Solvay name and the other operating as Syensqo, which includes the plastics and composites businesses.
"This transformational project of creating two new industry champions … has been possible due to the tremendous efforts and commitment of our teams who have consistently delivered strong results for our stakeholders," Solvay board chairman Nicolas Boel said. He added that both companies "begin their independent journeys with strong balance sheets, which will support their future growth."
"In a world of perpetual change, the status quo is never an option," Boel said. "The creation of two independent companies will unlock further value to our stakeholders. It will sharpen our strategic focus, bring new growth opportunities, allow us to allocate capital more efficiently and build even stronger foundations for the future."
Previous Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri now is CEO of Syensqo. "I am delighted to be able to lead Syensqo to explore new frontiers to create the chemistry and technologies needed to advance humanity as well as accelerating its growth," she said.
Solvay first announced plans for the split in early 2022. Businesses in Syensqo include Specialty Polymers, Composites, Technology Solutions and Oil & Gas, as well as growth platforms in batteries, green hydrogen, thermoplastic composites, renewable materials and biotechnology. Those businesses generated sales of approximately 7.9 billion euros ($8.6 billion) in 2022.
The new Solvay company — with 2022 sales of 5.6 billion euros ($6.1 billion) — will make soda ash, peroxides, silica and similar products. Philip Kehren will serve as CEO of the new Solvay. Syensqo has underlying EBITDA of 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion), with Solvay having 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in that category.
Globally, Syensqo's plastics-related production sites include ones making polysulfones in Marietta, Ohio; composites in Piedmont, S.C.; composite tape in Anaheim, Calif,; fluoropolymers in Tavaux, France; and Changshu, China; and polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and other specialty resins in Alpharetta, Ga.
Solvay has confirmed or announced several plastics-related expansions since announcing the split. In May 2022, the firm said it had increased capacity for long-fiber compounds in Belgium and had expanded a U.S. research and development center. The investment in more capacity for Xencor-brand long-fiber thermoplastic (LFT) compounds was made at Solvay's plant in Oudenaarde. The R&D expansion took place in Alpharetta.
In June 2022, Solvay doubled production capacity for Solef-brand polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) at its plant in Changshu. In September 2022, the firm announced plans to boost production of Amodel-brand materials by 15 percent in Augusta, Ga. In October 2022, Solvay opened a research center along with the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University. The Manufacturing Innovation Center at WSU in Wichita, Kan., is dedicated to enabling the future of flight through advances in composite technologies.
Most recently, Solvay in November announced plans to build a major new PVDF resin plant in Augusta. The plant will be built through a joint venture with Mexican specialty chemicals maker Orbia Advance Corp. SAB de CV and will tap into a grant of almost $200 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. Officials said the plant will be the largest North American production facility for EV materials.
Solvay was founded in 1863 by brothers Alfred and Ernest Solvay as a start-up business using a new process to make sodium carbonate.