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Wacker unveils growth strategy for polymers business

March 14, 2018
Chemical Value Chain

Polymers, the second-largest segment within Wacker Chemie after silicones, has an ambitious strategy to grow and keep its already leading share of the global dispersible powders and dispersions market.

The business generated sales of €1.25 billion ($1.55 billion) in 2017, growing 4%. However, a steep rise in raw material prices led to a 21% drop in EBITDA to €205.6 million. The EBITDA margin was 16%.

At a press briefing held on Wednesday at Burghausen, Germany—Wacker’s largest manufacturing site—Peter Summo, president/polymers at Wacker discussed strategy for the business. He told CW that at present Wacker’s polymers business has more than 50% of the worldwide vinyl acetate–ethylene (VAE) powder market. The second-largest player is Elotex, part of AkzoNobel’s specialty chemicals division, which AkzoNobel is planning to separate from its paints and coatings business. In VAE dispersions, Wacker has above 35% share and is also the largest producer. Wacker’s combined VAE capacity, spread over five worldwide manufacturing sites, amount to 1 million metric tons/year—double the size of the next two largest players, Celanese and Dairen, in VAE capacity.

The powder segment supplies the construction industry and the dispersions business has a spread of end markets, including adhesives, paints and coatings, nonwoven textiles, and carpets. The business has grown historically at 7%/year mainly owing to the high growth in the construction industry. Wacker is adding a combined 100,000 metric tons/year of VAE capacity in China and South Korea by 2019 to keep its share of the market, Summo says.

However, this capacity will not be sufficient for the next 10 years. The company doubled sales between 2007 and 2017, but going forward more capacity will be needed, he says. “I would like to accelerate our footprint and access to Asia further,” Summo tells CW. The company is already present in China and South Korea and it is now looking at possible investments in the larger global construction markets where it is not yet present, including India and South America. “So far we can serve these markets well from our existing five production sites…but in the future, if market continues to grow, we will consider investment there.”

By Natasha Alperowicz

Source: Chemical Week

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