Hoechst looking for more partners in PE venture with BP

Sep 17, 1997 02:00 AM

Hoechst says it is continuing discussions with BP Chemicals to form an equally owned high-density PE joint venture but may widen the talks to include other potential partners, which could result in a wide PE alliance. Industry sources say the discussions may be with BASF-Shell. A decision is expected to be made within the next few weeks.
As Hoechst focuses on life sciences, it is pondering strategies for its other businesses. In PE, the company says, it wants "all of the business to be included in the venture." In addition, Hoechst says, a new partner should consider the PE business as a core unit in which it will reinvest. Other requirements: retaining production at all sites and transferring all personnel into the alliance.
Industry sources say that BP Chemicals is not interested in including Hoechst's PE plant at Knapsack, Germany in the proposed venture. Although it is the weakest PE plant in the portfolio, Knapsack has a good polypropylene asset, now a part of Targor, Hoechst's jointventure with BASF.
There are no synergies in PE technology between Hoechst and BASF or between Hoechst and BP. Hoechst and BP have been swapping material.
BASF has yet to receive approval from the European Commission for Marlene, its PE alliance with Shell. That grouping will have 1.4 million tpy capacity, mostly concentrated in Wesseling, Germany. Adding Hoechst's 570,000 tpy would create the largest PE maker in Europe. The partners would also have a high market share in Germany.

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