Dow Chemical's US Basic Plastics unit is staying true to its core values, even after a tumultuous 18-month period, said the company.
"Recent events haven't changed Basic Plastics' strategy or the role it has with the company," said Glenn Wright, the unit's commercial vice-president for North America.
"It remains a strong global franchise within Dow," he added. "That was true two years ago, it's true now and will be true a year from now."
Basic Plastics weathered the cancellation late in 2008 of a deal that would have spun off half the business in a joint venture with Kuwait-based Petrochemical Industries (PIC). PIC called off the venture because of worsening global economics.
Dow's recent $15 300 million acquisition of Rohm and Haas will move Dow's US operations in more of a speciality-chemical direction, potentially placing less emphasis on commodity products such as polyethylene and polypropylene.
Dow's Basic Plastics ranks as the world's largest PE maker. It also produces PP globally and polystyrene in Europe and Asia.
The unit was Dow's second-largest business in 2008, with sales of $13 000 million. That total was consistent with 2007 sales, but the unit's pre-tax profit fell 51 percent in 2008 to about $980m.
First-quarter 2009 sales for the unit were up from the fourth quarter of 2008, but were down 47 percent when compared with the same quarter a year ago. First-quarter pre-tax profit for Basic Plastics almost completely disappeared in 2009, falling to $4 million from $427 million in the year-ago period.
Regardless of short-term setbacks, Wright said Basic Plastics has "the consistent role of a global franchise, and that's more prevalent than ever".
"Regardless of the economic cycle, our approach is unwavering," he said. "We're a high-performance business with a strong portfolio of joint ventures."