AkzoNobel Pakistan Splits with ICI Pakistan, Sale to Follow
- Jun 19, 2012
Hello and welcome to your early week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. Regular readers here know that titanium dioxide is getting very expensive, and with no new production coming online any time soon, guess what -- it will be a long time until prices come down. You owe it to yourself to use this stuff efficiently. So here's some news you can use.
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In industry news, AkzoNobel has completed the restructuring of its activities in Pakistan by formally establishing AkzoNobel Pakistan Limited as a separate legal entity from ICI Pakistan. As previously announced, the split means that the company has started the formal sale process to divest its 75.81% shareholding in ICI Pakistan. The new business is focused on three core areas - Decorative Paints, Performance Coatings and Specialty Chemicals.
"Pakistan offers clear opportunities for the future and we are committed to realizing our growth ambitions through these more strategically focused activities," explained Leif Darner, AkzoNobel's Executive Committee member responsible for the Middle East. "ICI Pakistan remains an attractive proposition with a number of strong businesses and we are confident that we will find a new owner better suited to achieving their obvious potential."
In process news, LyondellBasell was awarded a $4.5 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a catalyst-assisted technology to improve the energy efficiency of producing ethylene from ethane gas while emitting less greenhouse gases (GHG). The grant was one of 13 projects announced by DOE to receive more than $54 million for initiatives aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing costs of U.S. manufacturing.
"LyondellBasell is honored to be selected for an innovative manufacturing process grant that can benefit the U.S. chemical industry through lower energy costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions," said Tim Roberts, Senior Vice President, Olefins and Polyolefins - Americas. "Access to low-cost ethane from shale gas over the past three years has changed the competitive position of the U.S. chemical industry. We have an opportunity to further this advantage through greater energy efficiencies in our manufacturing processes."
In lash-up news, Praxair Surface Technologies recently announced the signing of a multi-year sourcing agreement with Héroux-Devtek Inc., a Canadian manufacturer of aerospace and industrial products, for the application of high-performance surface coatings for airframe components. The agreement initially covers coating support for two specific airframe component programs.
Under the agreement, Praxair will apply SermeTel coating products to Messier-Bugatti-Dowty landing gear components for the Bombardier Global Express long-range business jet and components for the Airbus A330 and A340 wide-body commercial jetliners. "We are pleased to be entering into a long-term agreement with Héroux-Devtek that allows us to play an extended role in serving its landing gear product lines," said Freddie Sarhan, Director of Canadian Operations for Praxair Surface Technologies.
In coatings ephemera this week, Neanderthals may have been cave-painting artists, according to research published Thursday that details a new method of analyzing cave paintings in Spain and shows they are the oldest known to man. The tests on 50 paintings in 11 caves in northern Spain, described in the US journal Science, hint at a previously unknown talent that may have been held by Neanderthals in Europe more than 40,000 years ago.
There never has been any proof that Neanderthals produced cave art, but they did bury their dead, used some primitive decorative techniques on their bodies and left behind pendants made of bones and shells, experts said. The cave images include a club, red discs and hand print stencils that were made by someone placing a hand against a cave wall and blowing paint on it. The pigment is inorganic, so carbon dating can't be used. In steps the new process, which developers say does not require carbon, and is more reliable.
One of the discs in the El Castillo cave dates back more than 40,800 years, making it the oldest cave art in Europe, said the researchers. "We are claiming the oldest reliably dated paintings in the world," said lead author Alistair Pike, a reader in archeological sciences from the University of Bristol.
A number of "oldest" claims have been made recently, from the Chauvet cave in France at 32,000 years to a limestone wall dating back some 37,000 years at Abri Castanet, a well-known archeological site in southwestern France. Other analyses of art in India and Australia purport to be older, but none were tested with the latest technique and some interpretations are invalid because they are based on style, not science, the authors said.
While the findings in Spain so far do not prove that the art was done by Neanderthals, "we must say there is a strong probability that that is the case," said Zilhao. To be certain that the work was done by Neanderthals, scientists would have to find a painting that is older than 42,000 years, the researchers said.
Zilhao said his hunch is that the Spanish cave art was done by Neanderthals because the procedure they are using for testing, by radioactive decay of uranium on calcite deposits on top of the art, does not actually touch the last layer of material that is in contact with the paint to avoid destroying it. Therefore, the artwork itself may be several thousand years older than the calcite on top of it, he said.
So how old is paint? Really, really old.
In the world of coatings high finance, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc has changed chief executives at paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore, after a published report that the former CEO used company funds to take top executives on an island jaunt. Apparently, all vacations are not good.
A spokeswoman for Benjamin Moore confirmed Denis Abrams was no longer running the 129-year-old company, which Berkshire acquired in late 2000. As of June 6 he was replaced by Bob Merritt, an outside executive. The spokeswoman referred all questions about the reasons for the change to Berkshire headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.
The New York Post reported Friday that Berkshire executives traveled to Benjamin Moore headquarters in New Jersey last week and escorted ex-CEO Abrams from the building. Apparently, Abrams and a group of Benjamin Moore executives went on a company-sponsored yacht trip in Bermuda to celebrate a rise in quarterly sales, the first since 2007, the newspaper said.
Berkshire struck a deal to buy Benjamin Moore in November 2000 for roughly $1 billion. Since the deal was made, though, Benjamin Moore has not been prominent in the Berkshire universe. Most years, it does not even rate a mention in the company's annual letter to shareholders, in which Buffett commends certain of his CEOs for the work they have done.
The company is sometimes overshadowed by the rest of Berkshire's housing-related businesses, which suffered greatly during the financial crisis and are still struggling with the effects of the weak housing market. However, Buffett is still more likely to talk about Shaw Carpet or Acme Brick, for example, than he is to bring up the paint business.
Abrams' departure is the second notable CEO issue for Buffett in a little more than a year. In the spring of 2011 the chief of Berkshire unit MidAmerican, David Sokol, left the company amid a stock-trading scandal, after buying shares in a company he was trying to convince Buffett to acquire. Sokol denied anything improper took place.
Sokol was once seen as Buffett's heir apparent, and more than a year later the probe around his departure is still costing Berkshire hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Buffett, the 81-year-old "Oracle of Omaha" has bragged that he speaks to some of his CEOs just once a year. Maybe he ought to crank that up just a touch.
In new product news, Malaysian homeowners often battle with paint that fades and dulls due to the local harsh weather. In response, Jotun has introduced Jotashield Anti Fade Colors, which the company says can withstand harsh weather conditions, high levels of humidity as well as pollution.
The built-in paint technology promises durability to keep homes looking beautiful for many years to come. Jotun (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd managing director and regional director for South-East Asia Peder Bohlin believes that good paint is always a wise investment.
"As a company, we are proud of our technological advances and rewarding research and development achievements.
"It has taken five years of development and exhaustive tests to make Jotashield with Anti Fade Colors the best in its class," he said.
According to Jotun's regional marketing director for the decorative segment for South-East Asia, Chen Lee Siong, consumers are looking for a paint that is durable and has beautiful colors. "We have conducted market research on what users are looking for in a good can of paint and the two main factors were that they provide durable protection as well as good quality colors," he said.
Through the Jotun Pigment technology, the paint will last twice as long and will not require frequent re-painting. The binder technology in the Jotashield will also be able to minimize dirt pick-up from surroundings and thus help walls become more dirt resistant.
With the latest infrared pigment technology, the Jotashield reflects sunlight and lowers the temperature of the home's exterior, which in turn makes the interior cooler. Test reports showed savings in electricity consumption of homes, allowing homeowners to not worry about choosing strong dark colors for their exterior walls anymore.
The paints are also able to fight against the formation of algae and fungus and are water resistant.
Jotun plans to launch the new Jotashield with AntiFade Colors in others countries soon.
In automotive paint news, The Tesla Model S luxury sedan is finally on the path to its big debut and for deliveries to begin. To further tease the car, Tesla has just released a quick video outlining the paint process of each model. Not much new here, but it is a cool vid. Remember, the Tesla S makes copious use of aluminum in its structure.
The body is first submerged in a special pre-treatment tank where the aluminum is dipped in a bath for oxidation protection. Next, the body is dipped again, but in a 75,000 gallon tank filled with an advanced electro-coating solution, which goes on very smoothly, and is said to help bring out the appearance of the following paint layers.
Once the dipping is complete, the car is then baked at 350 degrees in an oven to "seal" the anti-corrosion protection. Afterwards, Tesla's handymen apply seam sealer to make sure the body is watertight and quiet.
Then, the car receives its first coat of primer, and the topcoat is blown on by multi-axis robots.
Deliveries start in less than a week; some folks have had these reserved for years. The car is a luxury plug-in electric unlike the Fisker, which is a plug-in hybrid. The Tesla Model S sedan can be recharged from any 120v, 208v or 240v outlet. Depending on which Model S trim-level you chose, the all-electric sedan will provide you with a total range of 160, 230 or 300 miles per charge. 0 to 60 comes in just 5.6 seconds with a top speed that is limited to 130 mph. Pricing for the 160 mile car is expected to come in at $49,900 after a federal tax credit of $7,500.
If you want to take a look, here's a link to it at the Tesla website: Tesla
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