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PLASTICS: DuPont Sells LCP and PCT To Celanese

Friday, May 7th, 2010

In what is a surprise move, the Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont Co. has sold its Zenite LCP (liquid crystal polymer) and Themx PCT (polycyclohexylene-demethylene terephthalate) business to Dallas-based Celanese, parent company of Ticona Engineering Plastics.  Terms of the sale were not released.  

Revenues of the two units were reported to be about $40 million in 2009, but that was during a period of economic recession for the industry and both product groups certainly experienced higher revenues in earlier years.  

When introduced in the 1980s, LCPs immediately became the rage of the plastics industry with a race to develop new applications and the capability to offer numerous high temperature and processing benefits, especially for electronic applications.  The rage subsided after a while and probably never grew to anyone’s expectations, but nevertheless, LCPs were able to satisfy some unique needs to a growing number of applications.  Ticona, the engineering polymers unit of Celanese, has developed numerous applications for its line of Vectra LCPs and has continued to invest in their development.  

In fact, Ticona was already the world’s leading supplier of LCP compounds before it purchased the DuPont business and this acquisition strengthens its leadership significantly.  The company doubled its capacity to produce its Vectra LCP compounds to 8,000 tons/yr. in 2002 at a Shelby, N.C., plant.  But DuPont also invested in manufacturing of its Zenite LCP compounds in 2001, advancing capacity to 5,000 tons/yr. in 2001 at a plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.  

Commenting on the acquisition, Celanese Chairman and CEO David Weidman said, “This acquisition will continue to build upon Celanese’s position as a global supplier of high performance materials and technology-driven applications as we continue to expand our innovative offerings in growth-oriented segments to support our customers. These two products broaden the company’s Ticona Engineering Polymers offerings, enabling Celanese to respond to a globalizing customer base, especially in the high growth electrical and electronics application segments."

The acquisition includes intellectual property but does not include any physical assets.  Ticona will produce Zenite LCP compounds at its Shelby plant where it produces Vectra LCP grades and the Thermx PCT grades will be produced by a third party that went unnamed.  Compounding of both materials will be performed at various Ticona sites.  

For Ticona, with its emphasis on developing automotive markets, the move appears to be a perfect fit, especially as auto manufacturers are developing electronic controls for EV and hybrid vehicles.  The company said its industry position in LCPs is strengthened and broadened with an opportunity to offer customers additional environmentally friendly electrical and electronics product solutions.  These “green devices,” made of LCPs, ensure the highest levels of product performance without the use of halogens.  LCPs, the company noted, are used in switches, connectors, memory module sockets, in-play consoles, laptops, televisions and mobile phones, as well as other E/E components.  

DuPont’s Diane Gulyas, president of the company’s Performance Polymers unit said of the sale, “As the leading supplier of high performance engineering resins, DuPont Performance Polymers is fully committed to growing and strengthening its broad product portfolio.  DuPont Performance Polymers has concluded that this opportunity to divest Zenite LCP and Thermx PCT is in the best long-term interests of our portfolio and customers.  We will work closely with Celanese to make the transition period as effective as possible for our customers.”

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