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ChemSpec acquired by French specialty chemical distributor Safic-Alcan  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Paris, France – Safic-Alcan, a leading specialty chemicals distributor, acquired majority stakes in ChemSpec, Ltd., a U.S. distributor focused on rubber and adhesives business, based in Akron, OH. This acquisition allows Safic-Alcan to control 75 percent of ChemSpec, Ltd. “This transaction is in line with the strategic vision of the group to expand geographically in North America while developing business on its own without any restriction,” stated Martial Lecat, CEO of Safic-Alcan. ChemSpec, Ltd. was founded in 2003 by Dave Moreland. As president and minority shareholder, Moreland will remain in place in the future organization. "We are extremely pleased with Safic-Alcan’s keen interest in ChemSpec, Ltd. and their vision for the North American market. The growth of ChemSpec, Ltd. is the result of our excellent supply base of quality manufacturers and service providers; partnerships with our many customers; and our dedicated employees. ChemSpec, Ltd. and Safic-Alcan hold the same core values in developing business relationships which will continue to serve us extremely well moving forward," said Dave Moreland. ChemSpec, Ltd. has a portfolio of 190 active customers. Revenue forecast for 2015 is expected to exceed $41 million, up from $36 million last year. This further acceleration is based on the continuing development of new products, the lasting relationship with big customers in the USA and the decision of Safic-Alcan to fully use the sourcing capacity of its subsidiaries in China. “ChemSpec, Ltd. will be used to support the development of cosmetics activity in North America due to be launched shortly. Extension of product range to coatings, plastics and active ingredients for pharmacy will also be planified at a later stage,” concluded Martial Lecat. - * Email

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Chemours launches Viton VTR-9307 bisphenol-cured fluorinated rubber pre-compound  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wilmington, DE - Chemours, the business spun off from U.S. chemical giant DuPont, has launched a new bisphenol-cured fluorinated rubber pre-compound under the name Viton VTR-9307 for the production of fluoroelastomer (FKM) parts with long-term resistance to hot acidic gases and condensates. Based on proprietary technology, the new product is said to combine the advantages of high temperature and chemical resistance with the added acid resistance necessary for automotive applications such as EGR sensors, positive crankcase ventilation (PCV), diesel particulate filters, gaskets for charge air coolers, intake pipes, EGR coolers and quick connectors, in addition to o-rings and sleeves for air flow elements. Up to now, higher-priced peroxide crosslinked FKM were required for these applications. Chemours said Viton VTR-9307 can be used without the addition of conventional metal oxide activators to avoid the extreme swelling caused by these activators when exposed to organic acids. Elastomers produced with the pre-compound swell only slightly. Their mechanical properties, such as tensile strength, elongation at break, hardness and compression set, similar to the properties of peroxide-crosslinked FKM, are claimed to be largely unaffected by long-term exposure to organic acids. Jean-Marc Imbert, global product manager for fluoroelastomers at Chemours, said the newly launched product offers a cost-effective solution compared with peroxide-cured FKM in many demanding applications, especially in the automotive industry. - * Email

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Chemtura announces earnings report for second quarter 2015  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Philidelphia, PA - Chemtura Corporation announced financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2015. The company also filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2015. For the second quarter of 2015, Chemtura reported net sales of $464 million and net earnings from continuing operations on a GAAP basis of $18 million, or $0.26 per diluted share. Net earnings from continuing operations on a managed basis were $20 million, or $0.29 per diluted share. "We continue to improve our performance as we move through 2015," said Craig Rogerson, Chemtura's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Despite somewhat tepid demand in many of our markets, we improved sequential and year-overyear earnings in our core segments, demonstrating the strength of our commercial organization and the benefit of our cost reduction initiatives. Adjusted EBITDA in our core segments was $60 million, up 13 percent compared to last year and 18 percent compared to the first quarter of 2015. Reductions in manufacturing costs helped offset headwinds caused by lower than anticipated sales volumes and the resulting effect on manufacturing cost absorption," commented Rogerson. "During the quarter, we also took the opportunity to sell our shares in Platform Specialty Products, generating $54 million in cash. We used some of our excess cash to prepay $42 million of our term loan, further reducing interest expense and strengthening our balance sheet, but still ended the quarter with $309 million of cash-on-hand reflecting solid cash flows from operations in the quarter," he added. "Both of our industrial segments performed well in the quarter," said Rogerson. "Our Industrial Performance Products segment posted a record quarter for operating income. The segment was able to take advantage of lower raw material costs and solid manufacturing performance to drive earnings growth, despite lower revenues. Industrial Engineered Products improved significantly from the first quarter of this year and was flat with the second quarter of 2014, which was the best quarter for the segment last year. Sequential improvement was driven by lower raw material costs, improved bromine derivative pricing, increased sales of flame retardants for electronics and insulation and the seasonal up-tick in fumigant sales in the quarter." - * Email

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Ashland Inc. announces preliminary financial results for the fiscal third quarter  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Covington, KY - Ashland Inc. announced preliminary financial results for the fiscal third quarter ended June 30, 2015. Ashland reported earnings from continuing operations of $115 million, or $1.68 per diluted share, on sales of nearly $1.4 billion. These results included three key items that together reduced income from continuing operations by approximately $16 million, net of tax, or $0.23 per diluted share. For the year-ago quarter, Ashland reported income from continuing operations of $71 million, or $0.90 per diluted share, on sales of $1.6 billion. There were six key items in the year-ago quarter that, on a combined basis, reduced income from continuing operations by $58 million after tax, or $0.73 per diluted share. (Please refer to Table 5 of the accompanying financial statements for details of key items.) For the remainder of this news release, financial results have been adjusted to exclude the effect of key items in both the current and prior-year quarters. On this basis, Ashland's adjusted income from continuing operations in the third quarter of fiscal 2015 was $131 million, or $1.91 per diluted share, versus $129 million, or $1.63 per diluted share, for the year-ago quarter. This performance marks the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth in adjusted earnings per share. Ashland's results as compared to the year-ago quarter were as follows: Sales were negatively affected by macroeconomic factors including foreign exchange rates and reduced demand in the North American energy market. In addition, Ashland's strategic decision to divest non-core product lines also negatively affected sales. These factors reduced sales by a total of approximately $200 million. As a result of the recent global restructuring and foreign exchange rates, selling, general and administrative (SG&A) costs declined 9 percent, to $231 million when adjusted for key items Adjusted EBITDA margin rose by 260 basis points, to 21.2 percent. This strong EBITDA margin improvement was driven by an increasingly differentiated product mix, combined with disciplined cost control. "While a number of factors have affected our top-line results, the Ashland team executed at a high level in the third quarter to drive strong earnings and margin growth," said William A. Wulfsohn, Ashland chairman and chief executive officer. "While foreign currency and the weak North American energy market reflect broad economic trends, our decision to divest or exit certain non-core product lines also affected Ashland's top line. These actions were taken in an effort to focus on higher-margin opportunities, where we deliver industry-leading innovation to help our customers succeed. You can see the positive impact from this strategy within Ashland Specialty Ingredients, where the consumer division continues to grow as we focus more technical resources and available capacity to support increasing demand for our value-added pharmaceutical, hair and oral-care product lines. Within Ashland Performance Materials, composites posted strong year-over-year margin growth as a result of improved product mix and good cost management. The Valvoline team continued to drive premium-branded sales growth. In addition, Valvoline Instant Oil Change (VIOC) store expansion and strong promotions helped drive record profits in the quarter." He added: "At the same time, Ashland's global teams have succeeded in taking out costs across the organization as part of a broader plan to improve our competitive position. We are now focused on sustaining those cost reductions and improvements. These efforts, together with our focus on generating improved business and product mix, led to a significant increase in EBITDA margin. We remain committed to achieving Ashland's near- and mid-term EBITDA margin targets." He also said Ashland has prioritized the effective allocation of capital through targeted investments to support its core product lines and share repurchases. Among the recent targeted investments were capacity expansions for hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) production. In addition, the company recently announced an agreement to acquire AkzoNobel's Zeta Fraction* technology, which will strengthen Ashland's position in personal care while continuing its expansion into sustainable, natural-based specialty ingredients. Ashland also continued to return cash to shareholders through the recently completed $1.35 billion share repurchase authorization. Under this authorization, which was announced in February 2014, the company bought back approximately 11.8 million shares at an average volume-weighted price of $115 per share. In late April, Ashland announced a new $1 billion share repurchase authorization that will expire December 31, 2017. "We believe Ashland stock is undervalued and we see share buybacks as an attractive capital allocation opportunity," Wulfsohn said. - * Email

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Petra Group to build rubber recycling facility in Northern England  

Monday, August 3, 2015

London, England - Malaysian investor Petra Group has announced it will invest £12 million to create a rubber recycling manufacturing facility in the North of England, creating 90 jobs. The announcement was made as part of a first Northern Powerhouse trade mission, which saw prime minister David Cameron and business secretary Sajod Javid lead 62 companies from Northern England to Singapore and Malaysia. While the exact location of the plant was not disclosed, the Petra Group said the manufacturing facility would use its “patented technology to produce Green Rubber”. David Cameron said: “Petra Group’s announcement that it will open its pioneering manufacturing to the North East of England, creating up to 90 jobs, is testament to the skills and expertise the North East has to offer.” Business secretary Sajid Javid added: “Our long-term economic plan seeks to rebalance growth across the regions and nations of the UK, and building a Northern Powerhouse will be a key part of this. This mission, the first of its kind, will demonstrate the strength of the northern regions, which are home to some of the most innovative companies and institutions in the world.” - * Email

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Liberian rubber sector review leads to retraining and growth practices  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Monrovia, Liberia - AllAfrica reports, "An international rubber expert, who was formerly the executive director of the Sri Lanka Rubber Research Institute, has presented his research finding on the rubber sector of Liberia at a meeting with stakeholders in Monrovia. Dr. LMK Tillekeratne, a well-known Tillekeratne was contracted by GROW in April of 2015 to provide technical assistance to introduce Ribbed Smoked Sheets (RSS), a value-added, processed form of rubber in Liberia. He spent the last two months preparing training manuals, training rubber farmers in the production of quality RSS and the improved exploitation of latex and farm management. Dr. Tillekeratne, during his research on the Liberian rubber sector, observes that farms productivity in Liberia is far below international standard since 1984, while planting has yielded low clones. The research findings further state that rubbers planted have poor quality in the field with low standards. He explained that the rubber plants experience wrong exploiting, meaning that the techniques adapted to tap are used wrongly by farmers. Plants, he said, are from very low yielding clones, stressing that those clones have been discarded since 1984. He said if Liberia is to get a fair price, then the sector should create a name of the Ribbed Smoked Sheets it produces. However, Dr. Tillekeratne noted that by 2019, rubber will be the most beneficial agricultural crop to be planted in tropical countries like Liberia. Commenting on statistics from the international average production of rubber worldwide, he said about three decades ago, the rubber sector annual productivity of rubber clones in the world was below 800 kg, but due to the current plant breeder, there are clones yielding 3,500 kg and 4,000 kg/hectare. He pointed out that the average world productivity presently has gone up to over 1,300kg/ha, noting that India productivity per clones is 1,800 kg/ha annually, Vietnam 1,700 kg/ha, Malaysia 1,550 kg/ha and Ivory Coast 1,500 kg/ha. It can be recalled that while in Liberia, Dr. Tillekeratne met with a broad representation of rubber sector stakeholders, including the government, banks, the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia (RPAL), Business Cluster Developers (anchor businesses) and smallholder rubber farmers. On June 22-26, Dr. Tillekeratne conducted a major RSS production training event at the Learning Center at COR Corporation's Bright Farm in Kakata. Approximately 75 rubber farmers and stakeholders attended the event, which lasted for five days. The training highlighted the collection of latex and the production of RSS, mixing, bulking, drying, smoking and packaging. The training will be replicated in the future at two other Learning Centers in Bomi and Bong Counties. GROW is a private sector development initiative operating in Liberia to promote pro-poor economic growth and stability through partnerships with Government and private companies. The program is a five-year Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)-funded market development initiative that employs the 'Making Markets Work for the Poor' (M4P) approaches. In addition to promoting the increased profitability of smallholder farm operations, the program seeks to contribute to sustainable growth and stability, with a particular emphasis on women and youth and the environment." - * Email

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New report on China's polyurethane rubber market  

Monday, August 3, 2015

London, England - Reportbuyer.com has released a new report on China's polyurethane rubber market. China's demand for Polyurethane Rubber has grown at a fast pace in the past decade. In the next decade, both production and demand will continue to grow. The Chinese economy maintains a high speed growth which has been stimulated by the consecutive increases of industrial output, import & export, consumer consumption and capital investment for over two decades. This new study examines China's economic trends, investment environment, industry development, supply and demand, industry capacity, industry structure, marketing channels and major industry participants. Historical data (2004, 2009 and 2014) and long-term forecasts through 2019 and 2024 are presented. Major producers in China are profiled. The primary and secondary research is done in China in order to access up-to-date government regulations, market information and industry data. Data were collected from the Chinese government publications, Chinese language newspapers and magazines, industry associations, local governments' industry bureaus, industry publications, and our in-house databases. Interviews are conducted with Chinese industry experts, university professors, and producers in China. Economic models and quantitative methods are applied in this report to project market demand and industry trends. Metric system is used and values are presented in either Yuan (RMB, current price) and/or U.S. dollars. - * Email

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