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LANXESS strengthens global phthalate-free plasticizer portfolio

  • Acquisition of US-based UNITEX
  • Access to new diversified plasticizer technology base

LANXESS is strengthening its global asset base and product portfolio for premium, environmentally-friendly phthalate-free plasticizers. The specialty chemicals company has agreed to acquire UNITEX Chemical Corporation located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Financial details were not disclosed. The transaction also represents LANXESS’ first acquisition of a manufacturing site in the United States.

Privately-owned UNITEX has about 40 employees based at its production site in Greensboro. The site has a capacity of more than 50,000 metric tons per year dedicated to mainly producing phthalate-free plasticizers and other specialty products, including flame retardants. UNITEX achieved sales of about USD 30 million in 2010.

Through this acquisition, LANXESS will gain access to UNITEX’s flexible manufacturing facility coupled with an extensive portfolio of phthalate-free plasticizers, including benzoates, citrates and trimellitates. UNITEX’s product portfolio will strengthen LANXESS’ leading brands of phthalate-free plasticizers, including Mesamoll, Unimoll, Adimoll and Ultramoll. The size of the global phthalate-free plasticizers market is currently estimated at EUR 1.3 billion and is growing at seven percent per year.

“This transaction underlines our technology leadership in specialty chemicals and strengthens our relationship with our customers in the USA – the world’s largest chemical market,” said Rainier van Roessel, Board Member of LANXESS.

“I am delighted that UNITEX will be joining forces with LANXESS, whose focus on technology and strong global standing will give the Greensboro team the platform to achieve even more success,” said George W. Page, former President and owner of UNITEX.

The transaction will close with immediate effect and LANXESS will finance the acquisition from existing liquidity. The UNITEX business will be integrated into the LANXESS business unit Functional Chemicals.

Phthalate-free plasticizers have been growing in demand due to legislative initiatives in developed markets such as North America, Western Europe and Japan. This trend is now also being seen in emerging markets around the world such as Latin America. Regulators are calling for consumer products such as toys, food packaging and cables to contain the flexible plastic PVC, which has only been processed by phthalate-free plasticizers.

LANXESS already enjoys a leading position in the phthalate-free plasticizer segment, driven by its current portfolio that includes the flagship product Mesamoll – a 100%-phthatlate-free platicizer based on alkyl sulfonic esters. In 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Mesamoll II in packaging for dry and aqueous-based food. In Europe, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has also approved the use of Mesamoll in food contact applications.

Functional Chemicals (FCC) belongs to LANXESS’ Performance Chemicals segment and is headed by Jorge Alberto Nogueira. Apart from specialty plasticizers, FCC manufactures phosphorous chemicals and colorants. It employs about 450 people mainly at its sites in Leverkusen and Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany.

LANXESS Corporation based in Pittsburgh, PA, currently employs about 900 people in the USA at nine locations and produces high-performance synthetic rubbers, advanced industrial intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS Corporation achieved EUR 1.2 billion in sales in 2010.

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LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 15,800 employees in 30 countries. The company is at present represented at 46 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainable indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and FTSE4Good.

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