Your Business In Brief - May 2007

MPM Restructures Plastics MachineryMannesmann Plastics Machinery GmbH, Munich, the world’s largest maker of plastics and rubber machinery, announced a restructuring of its operations.

MPM Restructures Plastics Machinery

Mannesmann Plastics Machinery GmbH, Munich, the world’s largest maker of plastics and rubber machinery, announced a restructuring of its operations. MPM, owned since mid-2006 by the investment firm Madison Capital Partners of Chicago, will be integrated into a “new Krauss-Maffei” that will be an integrated, flat organizational structure that can respond more quickly to customers.

MPM will merge the extrusion operations of Berstorff GmbH with Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH into the “new Krauss-Maffei” based in Munich.

Meanwhile, Netstal-Maschinen AG, its Swiss injection machine maker, will become a subsidiary of Krauss-Maffei. Another injection machinery operation, Demag Plastics Group, will remain an independent entity, managed separately from the new Krauss-Maffei.


Kautex is Under New Ownership

Private equity firm Steadfast Capital, Frankfurt, Germany, and a five-person management team have jointly acquired Kautex Maschinenbau in Bonn, Germany, from Munich-based Adcuram GmbH. Kautex is a supplier of extrusion blow molding machines for technical parts and industrial and consumer packaging. For more information visit Kautex's PT Online Showroom.


First Aluminum-Plastic Hybrid

Plastic-metal hybrid technology developed by Lanxess Corp., Pittsburgh, for automotive front ends is using aluminum for the first time on the Audi TT. Aluminum yields a 15% weight reduction vs. the steel used in previous hybrids. The Audi front end consists of three sheets of aluminum overmolded with glass-filled Durethan BKV 30 nylon 6. It was manufactured by Faurecia in Germany. The new front end is said to improve the vehicle’s driving performance because less weight ahead of the front axle stabilizes the car. Lanxess believes the plastic-aluminum option will become increasingly popular in auto manufacturing. Other potential applications include B-cross members, roof frames, and instrument-panel reinforcements. For more information visit Lanxess Corp's PT Online Showroom.


Indorama Builds Second U.S. PET Plant

Indonesia’s Indorama Polymers plc plans to build a 650-million-lb/yr PET plant in the U.S. Indorama’s StarPet, Inc. subsidiary already operates a 500-million-lb PET plant in Asheboro, N.C., which it acquired in 2004 from Tietex International Ltd. Though the location of the new plant has not been disclosed, the company is aiming for a late 2008 start-up.

The U.S. PET market is already facing oversupply as a result of 20% growth in domestic resin capacity from new plants coming on stream. Says a source at one major PET supplier, “This is a 7- to 8-billion-lb market growing at an annual rate of 6% to 7%, so typically you need about 500 million lb of new capacity each year to meet demand. I think this new capacity can be handled by the market, which by that time may not be so oversupplied.”


Big PS Producers Plan Joint Ventures

When two large joint ventures are completed later this year, they will reduce the number of polystyrene producers in North America from five to three, significantly altering the competitive landscape. Nova Chemicals Corp., Pittsburgh, and Ineos Ltd. in the U.K. announced plans to combine their North American assets into a 50:50 joint venture. Ineos will contribute a styrene monomer plant in Texas City, Texas, and a PS plant in Joliet, Ill. Nova will contribute a monomer plant in Bayport, Texas, and PS plants in Decatur, Ala.; Springfield, Mass.; Belpre, Ohio; and Montreal. Also included are both companies’ specialty PS-based resins: Nova’s NAS, Zylar, and Dylark and Ineos’s Avantra resins. Nova and Ineos already have a styrenics joint venture in Europe.

Meanwhile, Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., The Woodlands, Texas, announced their intention to form a 50:50 joint venture combining their PS and styrene monomer businesses in North and South America. Dow will contribute a styrene plant in Brazil and PS plants in Brazil, Columbia, Gales Ferry, Conn.; Ironton, Ohio; Joliet, Ill.; and Torrance, Calif. Chevron Phillips contributes a monomer plant in St. James, La., and a PS plant in Marietta, Ohio.