Neville Prior

Huntsman Announces Global TiO2 Price Increase

Neville Prior  27 October 2016 12:02:02 PM
Image:Huntsman Announces Global TiO2 Price Increase
Huntsman Corporation has announced global price increases for all its titanium dioxide pigments. The following increases are effective January 1, 2017 or as contracts allow. Europe: €150 (Euros) per tonne or $160 (USD) per tonne in dollar-based markets; Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America and Middle East: $160 (USD) per tonne; and North America: $0.07 per pound (USD).

Dow - DuPont Merger Scheduled for Delay

Neville Prior  25 October 2016 02:00:21 PM
Image:Dow - DuPont Merger Scheduled for Delay
Dow Chemical Co.’s chief executive officer, Andrew Liveris said the $59 billion merger with DuPont Co. may be delayed until February from a planned closing late this year, as European antitrust officials take more time to consider potential competition issues in pesticides and crop seeds. Regulators’ “greatest concern is agriculture,”.

Shareholders in the two largest U.S. chemical companies approved the 50-50 merger in June and Dow Chief Financial Officer Howard Ungerleider said this summer that the merger was on track to close by the end of the year. The European Commission this month delayed its decision deadline until Feb. 6 as it sought additional information about the transaction. Liveris said the value created by the deal made the wait worthwhile.

Carbon Dioxide Levels Above 400ppm - First Time in 5 Million Years

Neville Prior  24 October 2016 03:06:09 PM
Image:Carbon Dioxide Levels Above 400ppm - First Time in 5 Million Years
Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have surged past an important threshold and may not dip below it for "many generations". The 400 parts per million benchmark was broken globally for the first time in recorded history in 2015. But according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2016 will likely be the first full year to exceed the mark. The high levels can be partly attributed to a strong El Niño event.

While human emissions of CO2 remained fairly static between 2014 and 2015, the onset of a strong El Niño weather phenomenon caused a spike in levels of the gas in the atmosphere. That's because the drought conditions in tropical regions produced by El Niño meant that vegetation was less able to absorb CO2. There were also extra emissions from fires, sparked by the drier conditions. In its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the World Meteorological Organisation says the conditions helped push the growth in the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere above the average for the last ten years. At the atmospheric monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, levels of CO2 broke through 400 parts per million (ppm), meaning 400 molecules of CO2 for every one million molecules in the atmosphere. The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago, say experts. Prior to 1800 atmospheric levels were around 280ppm, according to the US National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). The WMO says that the rise through the 400ppm barrier has persisted and it's likely that 2016 will be the first full year when the measurements show CO2 above that benchmark, and "hence for many generations". While the El Niño factor has now disappeared, the human impact on climate change has not, the WMO argues.

"The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations."

The report also details the growth in other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. In 2015, levels of methane were 2.5 times greater than in the pre-industrial era, while nitrous oxide was 1.2 times above the historic measure. The study also points to the impact of these increased concentrations of warming gases on the world's climate. Between 1990 and 2015 there was a 37% increase in radiative forcing or warming effect, caused by a build up of these substances, from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities. While welcoming new initiatives like the global agreement to phase out HFC gases agreed recently in Rwanda, the WMO argues that nations must retain their focus on cutting CO2.

"Without tackling CO2 emissions, we cannot tackle climate change and keep temperature increases to below 2 degrees C above the pre-industrial era," said Petteri Taalas.

"It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Paris Agreement does indeed enter into force well ahead of schedule on 4 November and that we fast-track its implementation."

Around 200 nations who signed the Paris climate agreement will meet in Morocco in November to decide on the next steps forward.

UK Exporters Benefit from the Pound’s Drop

Neville Prior  24 October 2016 01:52:03 PM
Image:UK Exporters Benefit from the Pound’s Drop
Manufacturing exports have received a significant boost from the weakness of sterling, according to the the latest report from the CBI. The Industrial Trends Survey showed that export volumes grew that their fastest pace for two and a half years in the three months to October. The pound has fallen by nearly a fifth against the dollar since the EU referendum at the end of June. Export orders are expected to rise further over the next three months. However, manufacturers are worried about a potential shortage of skills. Nearly a quarter of the 459 firms which responded to the CBI survey said that "skilled labour availability" could limit output over the next few months.

"Manufacturers are optimistic about export prospects and export orders are growing, following the fall in sterling," said Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist.

"However, the weaker pound is also feeding through to costs, which are rising briskly and may well spill over into higher consumer prices in the months ahead.

"Access to skills clearly remains a high priority, so manufacturers will be looking to the government to implement a new migration system that meets the needs of business while responding to clearly-stated public concerns.

"Maintaining a preferential route between the UK and the EU, our largest trading partner, will be important," she added.

Both manufacturing output and orders grew over the quarter.

However, the sharp depreciation in sterling has had its downside. Unit costs, pushed up by an increase in import prices, rose at the fastest pace in three years and are expected to carry on increasing in the next three months. There has also been some "modest" domestic price inflation, as firms tried to pass on some of the cost increases to their customers. So despite increased export demand and competitiveness not all companies felt that the fall in sterling had been good for them. Of the 231 manufacturers who submitted an answer, 47% said the fall in sterling since June had had a negative impact on their businesses, while 32% said it had a positive impact and 19% said the effect was neutral.

Looking to the three months to the end of December orders, both domestic and export, are predicted to increase. However, more respondents expect employment to decline than expect it to rise before the end of the year. The CBI says companies will be looking to next month's Autumn Statement by the chancellor of the exchequer for further details on long-term industrial strategy.

"Ultimately, all businesses need greater clarity from the Government on the fundamental issues of skills and barrier-free access to EU markets as soon as possible," said Ms Newton-Smith.

Akzo Nobel Realises 1% Rise in Earnings

Neville Prior  20 October 2016 09:09:34 AM
Image:Akzo Nobel Realises 1% Rise in Earnings
Paints and specialty chemicals firm Akzo Nobel NV reported Wednesday a 1% rise in third-quarter adjusted earnings before interest and tax, beating analysts expectations, and reiterated that the market environment remained uncertain with challenging conditions in several countries and segments. The Amsterdam-based company, which counts Dulux, Sikkens, Interpon and Eka among its brands, said the profit rise was mainly due to improvement initiatives and lower costs, although these were partly offset by adverse currency effects, which were expected to continue.

For the quarter ended June 30, Akzo Nobel said adjusted ebit, which strips out exceptional and other one-off items, rose to 442 million euros ($485.4 million) from EUR436 million a year earlier; revenue slipped to EUR3.6 billion ($3.95 billion) from EUR3.76 billion. This compared with consensus forecasts of EUR433.4 million and EUR3.64 billion, respectively, which was based on about 16 analysts forecasts. Net profit was unchanged at EUR285 million.

Chinese Mega Merger Rumoured

Neville Prior  14 October 2016 01:36:38 PM
Image:Chinese Mega Merger Rumoured   Image:Chinese Mega Merger Rumoured
"Fortune" has reported on rumours that ChemChina and Sinochem are in merger talks. Although only a rumour at this stage, if it did go ahead, it would create a chemical business that eclipses that of can read the report at

EFSA OKs Titanium Dioxide but Nano Concerns Remain

Neville Prior  16 September 2016 01:03:32 PM
EFSA has said white food colouring titanium dioxide poses no health concerns despite data gaps, but campaigners have raised doubts over the safety of nanoparticles.

Bayer Clinches Monsanto Takeover

Neville Prior  16 September 2016 01:03:04 PM
Bayer has finally won its hard-fought battle to take over US agribusiness rival Monsanto. The two agriculture giants have just confirmed that the deal will go ahead after Bayer sweetened its offer to $128 per share. Altogether, the purchase price will total $66 billion. Based on Monsanto’s closing share price on May 9, 2016, the day before Bayer’s first written takeover offer, the price represents a premium of 44%.

The German company said it will finance the transaction with a combination of debt and equity, with the equity component of around $19 billion to be raised through the issue of mandatory convertible bonds and a rights issue with subscription rights. Bridge financing of $57 billion has been secured from BofA Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and JP Morgan. Despite the much higher level of debt it will carry, Bayer said it still targets an investment grade credit rating post-closing and is committed to the single "A" credit rating category over the long-term.

Acknowledging, indirectly, that it has had a close look at Monsanto’s books – something that was not entirely clear during its long courtship of the US group – Bayer said it has confirmed sales and cost synergies assumptions in due diligence and expects annual EBITDA contributions from total synergies of approximately $1.5 billion after year three, plus additional synergies from integrated solutions in future years. Bayer added that it expects the Monsanto takeover to provide its shareholders with accretion to core earnings per share in the first full year after closing and a double-digit percentage accretion in the third full year.

Closing of the deal is expected by the end of 2017, following all regulatory approvals. Bayer’s supervisory board has given its blessing, but Monsanto shareholders will also have a say, as will antitrust approval authorities. Bayer has committed to a $2 billion reverse antitrust break fee, if the transaction fails to gain approval. Monsanto’s chairman and CEO, Hugh Grant, who successfully held out for several increased bids, said he believes the combination with Bayer “represents the most compelling value for our shareowners, with the most certainty through the all-cash consideration.”

Pro forma sales of the combined agricultural businesses totalled €23 billion in 2015.

The industry’s two giants said their merger will benefit from Monsanto’s leadership in seeds & traits and its Climate Corporation platform, along with Bayer’s broad crop protection product line across a comprehensive range of indications and crops in all key geographies. The new player – which at present will be the clear industry leader – will have its global Seeds & Traits and North American commercial headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, its global Crop Protection and overall Crop Science headquarters in Monheim, Germany, and an “important presence” in Durham, North Carolina – in the heart of the so-called Research Triangle. Digital Farming activities will be based in San Francisco, California. The announcement of a successful deal left it initially unclear as to whether the new company will trade as Bayer CropScience or be given a new name.

BASF to Acquire Henkel’s Professional Western European Building Material Business

Neville Prior  16 September 2016 01:00:45 PM
Image:BASF to Acquire Henkel’s Professional Western European Building Material Business
BASF has signed an agreement to acquire Henkel’s professional Western European flooring, tiling and waterproofing business in order to strengthen its portfolio in construction chemicals. Both parties have agreed not to publish financial details of the transaction. The transaction includes Henkel’s flooring business sold under the Thomsit brand and the Thomsit trademark globally. Also part of the transaction is Henkel’s flooring, tiling and waterproofing business in Western Europe, currently sold by specialised retailers or under the Ceresit brand. BASF and Henkel have agreed that BASF will use the Ceresit trademark for the Western European business in the categories of tiling and waterproofing. Main markets are Germany and Benelux. Total revenue for the business being acquired is in a higher double-digit million euro range. BASF intends to integrate the acquired business into PCI Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF and part of its construction chemicals division. PCI Group has a leading position in the German market for tile fixing systems.

The intended transaction includes a temporary lease of Henkel’s production site in Unna, Germany, where the respective products are being produced. BASF will operate the Unna site for a period of two to three years and will then continue the business at existing PCI production sites, mainly in Hamm, Germany, which is located nearby Unna. The transaction is subject to the approval of relevant antitrust authorities and is expected to close by year-end 2016.

“The acquisition of Thomsit and the Ceresit flooring, tiling and waterproofing business in Western Europe demonstrates our strong commitment to expanding our Construction Chemicals product portfolio. Together, the strong brands PCI and Thomsit will make BASF one of the leading companies in the market for flooring products in Germany. The Ceresit flooring, tiling and waterproofing business in Western Europe will allow us to enter market segments which we do not serve comprehensively today,” said Ralf Spettmann, president of BASF’s construction chemicals division.

UK Construction Industry Keeps Its Head

Neville Prior  9 September 2016 01:58:37 PM
Image:UK Construction Industry Keeps Its Head
Fears about the post-Brexit impact on the UK construction industry have dampened after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that monthly output was merely flat in July. In its first statistical announcement on the sector since the European Union referendum, the ONS said “there is very little anecdotal evidence at present to suggest that the referendum has had an impact on output”. As a result, the ONS revised upwards its original second quarter estimate of UK gross domestic product which showed a decrease in output of 0.7%. The latest figures found that all new work increased by 0.5% while all repair and maintenance decreased by 1.1% in July. However, year-on-year construction output decreased by 1.5%. All new work, and repair and maintenance decreased by 0.6% and 3.2% respectively.
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