By Liz White, editor
Paris - Rhodia and Lyondell Chimie TDI SCA are in exclusive negotiations for the sale of their isocyanates businesses to the Perstorp Group.
Included in the deal are Rhodia's aliphatic isocyanates -HDI (hexamethylene diisocyanate), IPDI (isophorone diisocyanate) and derivatives. These are used to produce a range of intermediates for industrial paints and coatings.
Also part of the deal is Lyondell's aromatic isocyanates business (TDI - toluene diisocyanate) and production of intermediates for polyurethane foams, which is operated under contract by Rhodia.
A press statement from Rhodia said these activities are largely based in Pont-de-Claix, France, and in Freeport, Texas. Together they employ around 680 people.
The deal should be complete within the next few months, following consultation with employees' representatives and regulatory approvals.
After the divestment, chemical group Rhodia will have no further interests in the polyurerthanes sector. Lyondell Chimie TDI SCA, however, is an affiliate of LyondellBasell Industries, a pioneer in propylene oxide and derivatives.
Speciality chemicals group Perstorp has been steadily expanding its interests in materials for the polyurethanes sector, most recently with its $285-million acquisition Solvay Group's UK-based caprolactones business, concluded early this year.
Perstorp has also expanded its speciality polyols business, adding a 20 kilotonnes-per-annum neopentyl glycol plant in China and buying a 51-percent stake in a 15 ktpa trimethylol propane plant, also in China, both during 2007.
Talking to Urethanes Technology International in February 2008, Mats Persson, executive vice president of the Swedish company, said sales into the PU sector now represent some $157 million (Euro 100 million), or about 10 percent, of the group's total turnover of $1558 million. The caprolactones addition and this latest, yet to be finalized isocyanates purchase, are likely to push up the significance of PU in Perstorp's total sales.
Persson added that materials for the general coatings sector is Perstorp's largest business, forming some 50 percent of its sales.
Rhodia's turnover in aliphatic isocyanates was $263 million, back in 2000.
PIC: Perstorp's neopentyl glycol plant.