Industry News

UCB takes over Solutia's resins, additives and adhesives businesses

Published on 2003-05-26. Author : SpecialChem


Belgium's UCB announced the acquisition of Solutia's resins, additives and adhesives business for $510m. The company has now a comprehensive technology platform in coatings, inks and adhesives.

"Our target with this acquisition is to create a strong platform for globalisation in coatings, inks and adhesives," says Ben Van Assche, director general of UCB's Surface Specialties unit and a member of UCB's executive committee. "This will enable UCB to leverage fully the synergies between the film and chemical sectors, particularly in relation to the development of new coating technologies, increasing our competitiveness and allowing us to enhance the service we provide for our global customers."

The new Solutia businesses which includes ten production sites making liquid and powder coatings, technical resins, additives and pressuresensitive adhesives was combined as UCB Surface Specialties. This business contributes $600m, bringing total revenues to some $l.5bn / year, equal in significance to UCB's more high-profile pharmaceutical business.

Van Assche predicts strong growth in the business, despite a slowing global economy. "Two factors drive growth in this business - economic growth and the substitution of solvent-based products with environmentally friendly coatings technologies." The move to eco-friendly water-based solutions is driving UCB's business, with strong growth expected in North America and Asia (where sales increase by between 20% and 30% / year), which have been slower than European markets to replace solvent-based ranges with safer alternatives. The main application areas for the new Surface Specialties range include automotives, construction chemicals, wood, plastics and inks.

"So far response from customers (to the formation of Surface Specialties) has been very positive," says Van Assche. "They appreciate the enhanced product offering since customers will never like being offered only a partial solution."

Monika RieseMartin, director of global strategic integration says the company is currently integrating its R&D facilities into a single R&D network. "The R&D effort is now fully globalized with over 300 people engaged in this function excluding technical service support staff," she adds.

UCB is well placed in this market. The company has two wholly owned plants in China, which it uses both to supply a rapidly expanding domestic demand and source for overseas markets. "Asian manufacturers are moving up the value chain in a range of industries. As they do, demand for our product line, much of which is service intensive, will grow strongly in these markets," according to Van Assche. The two Chinese units in Shanghai make powder resins and monomers, but they could be expanded to include the new product range acquired with the Solutia business. "This is something we are currently looking at," says Van Assche.

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