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Sinochem buys Spain’s Elix Polymers

PLASTICS NEWS EUROPE

Spanish engineering plastics specialist Elix Polymers SL says it is starting a new chapter in its 40-year history, with its acquisition by a Chinese owner.

Private equity firm Sun Capital Partners LLP announced Oct. 16 it was selling the supplier of ABS polymers and products to Beijing-based Sinochem International (Overseas) Pte. Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.

In an interview at the Fakuma trade show in Germany in mid-October, Elix Business Director Carlos Mueller said the takeover by Sinochem was aligned with the company's strategy to target Asia.

"We are now being integrated into a major chemical group. Since our start, we were very much focused on the European market and then grew in the NAFTA region," he said. "And for the next step, we agreed a few years ago to target Asia, and China in particular."

The company has had some sales in China, exporting materials from its plant in Tarragona, Spain. The Sinochem purchase will let the company expand supply to the Chinese car industry.

While Sinochem is a major chemicals player, it does not currently have a strong petrochemicals operation and is particularly focused on agricultural and other sectors.

"As far as we know, they are not really involved in plastics production and are right now only trading [the material]. This is their first big investment in production," he said.

While there are early stage discussions of putting a compounding unit in China, the priority, according to Mueller, will go increasing the utilization rate at the Tarragona factory, where Elix has a nameplate capacity of 180,000 tons per year.

"We are not underloaded, but we have free capacity and we can increase production in Tarragona first," he said.

The company has been debottlenecking at the facility and invested in an extruder last year. It also announced a $4.6 million expansion of its ABS powder production facility in June, which will come on stream by next year.

Elix started off as part of Germany's Bayer AG and then became part of Lanxess and Ineos. Since 2012, it had been owned by Sun European Partners LLP.

 

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