Arnhem, the Netherlands - Akzo Nobel's Powder Coatings business has opened its first production plant in Russia, on a site which "offers ample capacity for future expansion," the company said in a 5 July announcement. The Euro 13-million ($17.7 million) facility is at Orekhovo-Zuevo. in the industrial belt surrounding Moscow. Akzo Nobel said the operation puts the coatings business "at the heart of the central and eastern European market for industrial coatings," where Russia has a 46-percent share."This plant is part of an ongoing expansion of our activities in key geographic regions," according to Akzo Nobel ceo Hans Wijers, quoted in the company statement. "We realised some time ago that local production was necessary in order to supply the service expected by our customers, and to keep up with rapidly growing demand. The beauty of this site is that two-thirds remains free for future development, which opens up further strategic opportunities for all our businesses."Akzo Nobel points out that it has has been very active in the powder coatings markets in central and eastern Europe over the last few years. This region has a GDP equal to that of China, the company added. epw"