CLEVELAND—With its recent acquisition of Chemtura Corp., Lanxess A.G. is gearing up its Rhein Chemie business unit to lead the company's expansion in specialty additives, according to a top Rhein Chemie executive.
"This is expected to be the best year for Lanxess in its history," Rogerio Ibanhez, head of sales in the Americas for the Rhein Chemie business unit, said at the International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland Oct. 9-12.
Officially completed April 21, Lanxess' purchase of Chemtura—one of the world's leading suppliers of flame retardant and lubricant additives—was a major step forward for the Cologne-based specialty chemicals giant, according to Ibanhez.
"The Chemtura acquisition was a chance for us to grow in the Americas and spread the footprint of the company globally," he said.
With the Chemtura acquisition, Rhein Chemie restructured into the Rubber Additive Business and Colorant Additive Business units.
"This was a big change, allowing Lanxess to change its focus from chemicals to specialty additives," Ibanhez said.
The four pillars of Lanxess are advanced intermediates, performance chemicals, high performance materials and performance additives, according to Ibanhez. The acquisition of Chemtura created the fourth pillar, he said.
"The focus for Lanxess from now on will be future new acquisitions and new strategies for our global footprint," he said.
The Rhein Chemie business has global annual sales of $463 million, 25 percent of which are in the Americas, including South America as well as Canada, Mexico and the U.S., according to Ibanhez.
Digitalization in the form of Industry 4.0 is something Rhein Chemie is assessing as part of its future strategy, he said.
Rhein Chemie has 11 production sites—two in the U.S. (Chardon, Ohio, and Little Rock, Ark.), three in Latin America, three in Asia and three in Germany, Ibanhez said.
"We can support all customers worldwide with our global production footprint," he said. "We produce all our additives in every region. We can switch production from plant to plant, depending on demand and customers' requests."
Rhein Chemie is expanding production in three or four sites, most notably tire bladder production in China, according to Ibanhez.
"Bladder production had been focused in the U.S., Argentina and Germany, but we are now expanding production in China to meet demand in Asia," he said. "We are increasing our portfolio in bladders and release agents."
Rhein Chemie has growth expectations in 2018, according to Ibanhez. "We will focus on the U.S. market and finding new opportunities in the tire industry," he said.