DUESSELDORF, Germany—The presence of Arlanxeo will generate much interest at K Show 2016, particularly regarding the future plans of owners Lanxess and Saudi Aramco for the synthetic rubber joint venture.
With annual sales of around 2.8 billion euros in 2015, Arlanxeo operates 20 plants and employs 3,800 worldwide. It has two business units: Tire & Specialty Rubbers (TSR) and High Performance Elastomers (HPE).
Arlanxeo's global production setup includes: the world's largest EPDM plants in Geleen, Netherlands, and Changzhou, China; a world-scale chloroprene rubber plant in Dormagen, Germany; and the world's largest nitrile rubber plant, at La Wantzenau, France.
The TSR unit has capacities of around 400 kilotons per year (ktpa) for butyl rubbers and over 1,000ktpa for polybutadiene and styrene-butadiene rubbers. HPE's output capacity includes: EPDM, 450ktpa; (H)NBR nitrile rubbers; over 130ktpa; chloroprene rubber; more than 60ktpa; and EVM (ethylene vinyl acetate) rubber, around 15ktpa.
At a K2016 preview event, Arlanxeo CEO Jan Paul de Vries set out the JV's progress to date, saying its first priority was to ensure that customers were not impacted by the business changes, and that there were no interruptions to supply.
“We want to make sure that our customers have no negative effects from the joint venture but, on the contrary, that they have only benefits,” de Vries said at the summertime event.
The CEO went on to point to the establishment of an executive committee and a shareholders committee of the JV. Arlanxeo, he added, has offices with MDs and CFOs in every major country reporting to a new global HQ in, Maastricht, Netherlands.
More interesting, perhaps, was de Vries' comment that the joint venture was “step-by-step becoming backward integrated”—though he did not elaborate further.
The ability to source hydrocarbon feedstock, mainly C2-C4 olefins, from Aramco was central to the business rationale for the creation of the synthetic rubber JV.
Lanxess' management previously has said that full integration would take years to complete due to contracts with existing feedstock suppliers.
The German group, is, meanwhile, advancing its realignment plan, which started with the formation of Arlanxeo through the sale of a 50 percent stake in its synthetic rubber business to Saudi Aramco for 1.2 billion euros.
On Sept. 26, Lanxess announced the 2.4-billion euro acquisition of Chemtura Corp., a U.S.-based flame retardant and lubricant additives supplier. This followed the 210-million euro acquisition of Chemours' Clean and Disinfect business, announced in April.
“We are significantly building on our competitive positioning in medium-sized markets and increasing our presence in North America,” Lanxess chairman Matthias Zachert said after the Chemtura acquisition.
At K2016, Arlanxeo's presentations will include: A new generation of HNBR elastomers; new HNBR elastomers for low temperature applications, including automotive and oil exploration; new powdered NBR products; EVM elastomers for alternative-energy cable applications; and new developments in functionalized solution rubbers for tire applications.