Hello and welcome to your early week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. In industry news since last issue, Axalta entered into an agreement to acquire Valspar’s North American Industrial Wood Coatings business and Berger Paints and Chugoku penned a MOU to collaborate on marine and related industrial paints in India. Teknos has entered into an agreement with Looser Holding to acquire Feyco Treffert and Rennovia commissioned a bio-based 1,6-HDO pilot plant. There’s much more where we continue and as always, you can go to the above items now using the links, or checkout our latest stories, which we’ll get to right away…
PPG Takes Complete Ownership of IVC Joint Venture in Asia
PPG has purchased the remaining 50 percent ownership interest in its Asian joint venture comprising IVC (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and IVC-OPS (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. from its joint-venture partner, Omni-Plus System Pte. Ltd. Financial terms were not disclosed. The IVC joint venture was formed in 2008 and principally supplies industrial coatings to the appliance and electronics-materials segments. In 2016, it had sales of less than $10 million as an equity affiliate of PPG. Included in PPG’s acquisition of the remaining 50 percent ownership interest in the IVC joint venture (including both the Malaysia and Singapore entities) are all machinery and equipment, property leases, working capital, customer list and relationships, and distribution and territorial rights in Asia. Additionally, all joint-venture employees, of whom there are fewer than 10, will become PPG employees.
Kansai Paint Completes its Acquisition of Helios Group
Kansai Paint has acquired all shares of European coating manufacturer Helios Group. Under the strategic owner Kansai, Helios will represent a strong European center of innovation, know-how and business development, and will further grow its importance in European coating industry. With the acquisition of Helios Group, Kansai Paint accelerates its growth strategy to become one of top paint producers in the world. Before the acquisition of Helios, Kansai already had a strong presence in Asia, Africa and Middle East, but very limited exposure in Europe. The successful acquisition provides Kansai Paint with a foothold for full-scale expansion into Europe. David Kubala, one of the CEOs of Helios Group stated, “Helios already has the sales network in European markets, with its numerous trusted brand names. We hold a strong position in industrial, car refinish and decorative coating segments. Our portfolio is similar and in some cases complementary to Kansai Paint’s. Kansai has a strong commitment to R&D and innovations and Helios obtains efficient production, strong R&D department with well-skilled people and advanced equipment. For all these reasons amongst others, Helios is the right company for Kansai to expand and develop business in Europe. “
hubergroup Purchases Alden & Ott, a Manufacturer of WB Inks and more
hubergroup, USA and Alden & Ott Printing Inks Company have announced that hubergroup has acquired substantially all of the assets of Alden & Ott in a private deal. hubergroup expects to retain virtually all employees and management team in order to continue operations in the Midwest and Northeast without interruption. “The addition of Alden & Ott to the hubergroup family is an exciting opportunity for our customers, employees and shareholders,” said Derek McFarland, president of hubergroup, USA. Alden & Ott Printing Inks Company was founded by Joe Alden and Henry Ott in 1957 and has transformed itself many times. Anticipating customer needs, the company expanded its products from heat set to sheet fed, UV inks, and flexo inks.
On Your Coatings Radar – Missing Pieces, Cloak and Dagger and an Old Friend Returns
In the Sherwin-Williams/Valspar merger, Axalta Coating Systems late last week agreed to pay $420 million in cash to acquire Valspar's North American Industrial Wood Coatings unit. The business is being spun-off so Sherwin-Williams can get approval from U.S. and Canadian regulators to buy Valspar. he unit Axalta plans to buy develops, produces and sells wood coatings under the Valspar Wood, Zenith, LustreLac and Grainstone labels for lumber suppliers and cabinet, flooring and furniture makers in the United States and Canada. Sales totaled around $225 million last year. In a statement, Axalta CEO Charles Shaver called the deal "an outstanding opportunity" that would "strengthen and further diversify our Performance Coatings segment.”
There was lots of what could be considered cloak-and-dagger stuff last week in relation to the proposed AkzoNobel/PPG lash-up. Now, what could be labeled “activist investors” are attempting to redirect the course of negotiations on the deal. USA-based hedge fund managers Elliott Advisors called for the AkzoNobel chairman’s ouster, righteously drawing a heated reply from the Dutch paintmaker suggesting that Elliott is working with PPG Industries Inc. on its takeover offer.
“The removal of Chairman Antony Burgmans would be irresponsible and damaging, and Elliott’s move for a shareholder vote on the matter will be rejected,” Akzo Nobel said in a statement Wednesday. Elliott replied that it would take the matter up with the Amsterdam Court of Appeals’ Enterprise Chamber. According to Elliott, Dutch law allows Akzo investors to request the chairman’s dismissal at a special meeting.
Elliott Advisors is ramping up pressure on AkzoNobel CEO Ton Büchner a week before the scheduled April 19 reveal of his plan to spin-off the company’s chemicals unit in an effort to stay independent.
AkzoNobel purportedly turned to Dutch financial regulators after it became aware last Tuesday that Elliott Advisors intended to share with PPG potentially price-sensitive information about the demand.
Bloomberg reported that in an April 11 email seen by them, Elliott Co-Chief Investment Officer Gordon Singer purportedly asks colleagues that PPG be informed of the request for an extraordinary general meeting that was made through a letter to the AkzoNobel board and suggests this would be an “opportune time” for PPG to reach out to engage with Akzo Nobel. Should Burgmans accept talks with PPG, the email states that the letter would be rescinded. In contrast, it would be made public April 13 or 18 if the chairman declines to engage.
Elliott said in a statement it is “aware of its various regulatory obligations, including obligations related to handling price sensitive, or potentially price sensitive, information.” They investor added that they have met with PPG on the topic of the takeover.
PPG said Wednesday “there are currently no agreements or arrangements, in whatever form, between PPG and Elliott Advisors.” The company said it has met with Elliott as well as other AkzoNobel shareholders about its takeover offer and restated its desire to meet with the Dutch company.
Finally on your coatings radar -- in the USA, the Trump administration is proposing to eliminate two Environmental Protection Agency programs that are designed to reduce children’s exposure to lead-based paint. The proposal, laid out in an internal budget memo made public by The Washington Post, is receiving a chilly reception from state governments across the country, who will likely try to maintain the services, but will receive no federal funding to do so, stretching already tightly-drawn budgets. The total save by the federal government is roughly 17 million USD.
These EPA programs educate the public on the lead issue and ensure that when lead paint is discovered and removed it is done in a way that reduces children’s exposure to the remediation process. The agency is proposing to slash the staff working on these issues by 73 and to eliminate the grants it gives to states and tribes to oversee the training of contractors to properly remove lead paint.
Your old editor mentions this because the withdrawal of this funding might trigger a new rash of lead paint litigation brought by state governments against manufacturers in an effort to fill this funding gap and cover remediation and damages brought about by lead pigments.
Sherwin-Williams and Valspar Agree to Sell Valspar’s NA Wood Coating Ops to Axalta
The Sherwin-Williams Company and The Valspar Corporation on Wednesday, April 12 announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement with Axalta Coating Systems to sell the assets related to Valspar’s North American Industrial Wood Coatings business to Axalta for $420 million in cash. Valspar’s North American Industrial Wood Coatings business had revenues of approximately $225 million in 2016 and is one of the leading providers of coatings for OEM and aftermarket Industrial Wood markets, including building products, cabinets, flooring and furniture in North America.
The companies are divesting the business in connection with the reviews by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Canadian Competition Bureau (CCB) of the proposed acquisition of Valspar by Sherwin-Williams.
John G. Morikis, Chairman, President and CEO of Sherwin-Williams, said, “With this agreement, we believe that we have addressed regulatory concerns appropriately and we are moving forward to obtain approval for our acquisition of Valspar.”
Gary E. Hendrickson, Chairman and CEO of Valspar, said, “We believe that Axalta is an excellent buyer for our North American Industrial Wood Coatings business and will provide great opportunities for our talented employees. Axalta is a strong cultural fit with Valspar and shares our commitment to innovation and customer service. We will work closely with Axalta to ensure a smooth transition of this business.”
The sale of Valspar’s North American Industrial Wood Coatings business to Axalta is subject to the closing of the Valspar and Sherwin-Williams merger, as well as customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including the approval of the FTC and the CCB. Axalta has secured a financing commitment for the transaction through Deutsche Bank AG New York Branch, subject to customary closing conditions. JP Morgan acted as financial advisor to Sherwin-Williams.
On March 20, 2017, Sherwin-Williams and Valspar announced the extension of the merger agreement to June 21, 2017. This extension, especially in light of the agreement announced today, is expected to provide more than sufficient time to complete the Valspar acquisition.
Berger Paints and Chugoku Sign MOU for Marine & Industrial Paints
Berger Paints and Chugoku Marine Paints of Japan have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation and collaboration in the ﬁelds of marine and related industrial paints in India.
The MOU envisages joint efforts in marketing, supplying and purchasing marine related industrial paints. Subsequently, the parties have a view of establishing a joint venture company as their ﬁnal objective.
Talking about the MOU, Mr. Masataka Uetake, president and CEO said: “Chugoku looks forward to the partners’ jointly becoming leading players in marine coatings in India and the neighboring region."
Mr. Abhijit Roy. CEO, Berger Paints, mentioned that “Chugoku and Berger together have considerable strength in technical expertise, product, market knowledge and relevant skills and infrastructure and these are expected to considerably beneﬁt the territory's market requirements.”
Rennovia Commissions Bio-based 1,6-Hexanediol Pilot Plant
Rennovia has announced that it has now successfully commissioned, and is operating, all core pilot plant operations for its sugars to 1,6-hexanediol (1,6-HDO) process.
1,6-HDO is a specialty chemical widely used in a variety of formulated products, including coatings, adhesives, and elastomers. Rennovia’s novel production process employs its proprietary catalyst technology and is projected to provide 1,6-HDO with drop-in performance properties.
This biobased product is anticipated to have greatly reduced greenhouse gas and environmental impacts versus petroleum-based 1,6-HDO. In addition, Rennovia’s 1,6-HDO is a platform intermediate to several commodity chemicals with over $20 billion market value, including hexamethylenediamine (HMD), adipic acid, and caprolactam.
The completion of key piloting activities and the development of a 1,6-HDO commercial design package are anticipated by the end of this year. Rennovia is in active discussions with a number of potential strategic partners to support the commercialization of 1,6-HDO and downstream products. Archer Daniel Midlands Company (ADM), a current investor in the company, has expressed strong interest in supporting Rennovia’s commercialization of these products through feedstock supply and co-investment value chain partnering.
“The recent dramatic increase in petrochemical raw material prices and HMD supply issues reinforce the need for new and differentiated HMD capacity. We believe the timing is right to bring new 1,6-HDO and HMD technologies to the market place.” said Robert Wedinger, CEO of Rennovia. “We look forward to selecting strategic partnerships to commercialize our innovative processes for the production of cost-advantaged chemicals,” continued Dr. Wedinger.
“We continue to see a strong synergy in leveraging Rennovia’s breakthrough new catalyst technology a tour manufacturing facilities to diversify our product mix and efficiently produce higher value bio-based chemicals and diversify our feedstock supply for our customers,” said Kevin Moore, president of Renewable Chemicals for ADM.
Start-up Organizations Partner with AkzoNobel on Global Chemistry Challenge
AkzoNobel has teamed up with two organizations focused on supporting start-ups, Lux Research and StartupDelta. The partnerships will focus on developing business opportunities stemming from the company’s Imagine Chemistry start-up challenge. Designed to solve real-life chemistry challenges, the initiative has attracted more than 200 submissions.
AkzoNobel will contribute to the mission of StartupDelta, a public-private partnership established to strengthen the Dutch start-up ecosystem. The parties are working together to support start-ups in the chemical industry. AkzoNobel will also be a founding partner in StartupFest Europe, an event organized by StartupDelta to connect European start-ups with investors, scientists and corporate organizations.
“When start-ups and multinationals like AkzoNobel team up, they can play a decisive role in solving societal challenges and contribute to building a sustainable world,” explained Constantijn van Oranje, Envoy for StartupDelta, who will attend the Imagine Chemistry finals in June. “Initiatives like Imagine Chemistry also help to strengthen the position of the Netherlands as an international hub for innovation.”
Added Thierry Vanlancker, AkzoNobel’s Executive Committee member responsible for Specialty Chemicals: “We are committed to developing new solutions through a model of open innovation, based on cooperation with like-minded partners and start-ups. We are honored that Constantijn van Oranje and StartupDelta recognize these efforts and we can collaborate to accelerate the success of start-ups in chemistry.”
US-based Lux Research will support AkzoNobel in its evaluation and development of start-ups taking part in the Imagine Chemistry challenge, as well as helping to strengthen ties with the international start-up scene.
Commenting on the initiative, Mike Holman, VP Intelligence of Lux Research, said: “AkzoNobel has demonstrated its effectiveness in developing large-scale solutions for sustainable chemistry, ranging from the joint development of wind parks to finding new bio-based sources for raw materials. Lux Research is delighted to support the Imagine Chemistry initiative to unlock the potential of this industry for international start-ups”.
The partnerships will further strengthen AkzoNobel’s approach to open innovation, highlighted by the Imagine Chemistry challenge, which was established by AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals in cooperation with KPMG. Earlier this year, AkzoNobel also announced its participation in a €50 million collaborative venture capital fund, run by Icos Capital, focused on early stage chemical and clean technology start-ups.
BASF Saves €60 Million Globally from Employee Ideas
Valuable ideas: by implementing improvement proposals from employees, BASF was able to save nearly €60 million globally last year. A computer program for labeling samples, a concept for efficient distillation of a solvent, and a new approach to the energy-saving melting of waxes – these and 21,000 other improvement proposals were implemented in 2016, maintaining the high level of ideas of the previous year. BASF rewarded the ingenuity of its employees with bonuses totaling €4.4 million.
There was also a host of new ideas implemented at the Ludwigshafen Verbund site, which achieved savings of approximately €30 million for the fifth consecutive year. BASF rewarded the performance of its employees at the Ludwigshafen site with €3 million in bonuses. Employees of the Petrochemicals division were particularly inventive: their improvement proposals achieved annual net benefits of €6.5 million.
Many of the ideas were developed through teamwork. For example, employees at the melamine plant of the Monomers division, working together with colleagues from quality management, implemented an innovative refurbishment concept. In parts of a plant with hundreds of densely stacked pipes, a few pipelines were defective. Rather than idling the entire plant for several months, the colleagues were able to identify the specific lines needing to be shut down, while the remaining lines could continue to operate. This allowed total downtime to be reduced to just eight weeks, and saved costs of approximately €2 million.
Axalta Showcases Imron Elite Coatings at ExpoCam
Axalta Coating Systems will showcase its premium commercial brand of Imron® Elite polyurethane coatings for fleet vehicles, body builders and heavy duty trucks at ExpoCam held April 20-22, 2017 at Place Bonaventure in Montréal, Quebec. Axalta invites attendees to visit booth #5027 on Level 400 to speak with its coatings experts about Imron Elite products, color tools, and the superior customer service available to commercial transportation businesses.
Axalta’s innovative color research scientists developed Imron Elite coatings in more than 26,000 solid, metallic and pearl color formulas. Designed to provide colorful, tough and durable performance, Imron Elite is the paint of choice for six of the seven major Class 8 truck manufacturers in North America.
“Axalta’s Imron Elite products are ideal for fleet owners, operators, dealers and repair facilities who require industry-leading corrosion protection, outstanding gloss and color retention, and expect the best color match every time,” said Richard Cecchini, Axalta North America East Zone Sales Manager. “Vehicle owners can maintain and repair fleets with the same premium quality Imron product that is used on the OEM production line.”
ExpoCam is one of the largest trucking industry trade shows in Canada. Exhibitors travel from throughout North America and overseas to showcase trucks, trailers, equipment and services for the professional trucking industry. As a forum for attendees to build their professional network, ExpoCam also provides opportunities to learn about the newest industry technology and trends.
Italy’s ICA Introduces Sustainable Paint using DSM’s Decovery® Resin
DSM and Italian paint manufacturer ICA Group have jointly developed a new, sustainable paint called Iridea Bio. It contains DSM’s Decovery® plant-based resin and were on display at the European Coatings Show in Nuremberg, Germany, through the work of two Italian design studios, Stile Libero and Daniele Della Porta.
This newly developed paint for industrial interior wood applications is the result of an extensive collaboration between DSM and ICA Group. DSM’s ground-breaking Decovery resin technology takes ICA’s Iridea water-based paints to the next level of sustainability, which explains the name of the new Iridea Bio product line.
Decovery resins are made from renewable resources and combine typical acrylic performance with beneficial sustainability characteristics. The new Iridea Bio paint line provides for coatings that are more resilient, resistant to chemicals and lightfast than existing alkyd resins. In addition, it is safer to use and suitable for intensive industrial processing.
Researchers Design Coatings to Prevent Pipeline Clogging
When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered a catastrophic explosion and blowout on April 21, 2010, leading to the worst oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, the well’s operators thought they would be able to block the leak within a few weeks. On May 9 they succeeded in lowering a 125-ton containment dome over the broken wellhead. If that measure had worked, it would have funneled the leaking oil into a pipe that carried it to a tanker ship above, thus preventing the ongoing leakage that made the spill so devastating. Why didn’t the containment work as expected?
The culprit was an icy mixture of frozen water and methane, called a methane clathrate. Because of the low temperatures and high pressure near the seafloor, the slushy mix built up inside the containment dome and blocked the outlet pipe, preventing it from redirecting the flow. If it hadn’t been for that methane clathrate, the containment might have worked, and four months of unabated leakage and widespread ecological devastation might have been prevented.
Now, a team of researchers at MIT has come up with a solution that might prevent such a disastrous outcome the next time such a leak occurs. It may also prevent blockages inside oil and gas pipelines that can lead to expensive shutdowns to clear a pipe, or worse, to pipeline rupture from a buildup of pressure.
Researchers at MIT have developed a coating that could stop the buildup of hydrate ices that slow or block oil and gas flow. These hydrates are potentially explosive and are largely responsible for the initial failure to contain the oil spill that rocked the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The new method of preventing the icy buildup is described in a paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, in a paper by associate professor of mechanical engineering Kripa Varanasi, postdoc Arindam Das, and recent graduates Taylor Farnham SB ’14 SM ’16 and Srinivas Bengaluru Subramanyam PhD ’16.
The key to the new system is coating the inside of the pipe with a layer of a material that promotes spreading of a water-barrier layer along the pipe’s inner surface. This barrier layer, the team found, can effectively prevent the adhesion of any ice particles or water droplets to the wall and thus thwart the buildup of clathrates that could slow or block the flow.
Unlike previous methods, such as heating of the pipe walls, depressurization, or using chemical additives, which can be expensive and potentially polluting, the new method is completely passive — that is, once in place it requires no further addition of energy or material. The coated surface attracts liquid hydrocarbons that are already present in the flowing petroleum, creating a thin surface layer that naturally repels water. This prevents the ices from ever attaching to the wall in the first place.
Existing prevention measures, known as flow assurance measures, “are expensive or environmentally unfriendly,” says Varanasi, and currently the use of those measures “runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars” every year. Without those measures, hydrates can build up so that they reduce the flow rate, which can reduce revenues, and if they create blockages then that “can lead to catastrophic failure,” Varanasi says. “It’s a major problem for the industry, for both safety and reliability.”
The problem could become even greater, says Das, the paper’s lead author, because methane hydrates themselves, which are abundant in many locations such as continental shelves, are seen as a huge new potential fuel source, if methods can be devised to extract them. “The reserves themselves substantially overshadow all known reserves [of oil and natural gas] on land and in deep water,” he says.
But such deposits would be even more vulnerable to freezing and plug formation than existing oil and gas wells. Preventing these icy buildups depends critically on stopping the very first particles of clathrate from adhering to the pipe: “Once they attach, they attract other particles” of clathrate, and the buildup takes off rapidly, says Farnham. “We wanted to see how we could minimize the initial adhesion on the pipe walls.”
The approach is similar to that being used in a company Varanasi established to commercialize earlier work from his lab, which creates coatings for containers that prevent the contents — anything from ketchup or honey to paint and agrochemicals — from sticking to the container walls. That system involves two steps: first creating a textured coating on the container walls, and then adding a lubricant that gets trapped by the texture and prevents contents from adhering.
The new pipeline system is similar to that, Varanasi explains, but in this case “we are using the liquid that’s in the environment itself,” rather than applying a lubricant to the surface. The key characteristic in clathrate formation is the presence of water, he says, so as long as the water can be kept away from the pipe wall, clathrate buildup can be stopped. And the liquid hydrocarbons present in the petroleum, as long as they cling to the wall thanks to a chemical affinity of the surface coating, can effectively keep that water away.
“If the oil [in the pipeline] is made to spread more readily on the surface, then it forms a barrier film between the water and the wall,” Varanasi says. In lab tests, which used a proxy chemical for the methane because the actual methane clathrates form under high-pressure conditions that are hard to reproduce in the lab, the system performed very effectively, the team says. “We didn’t see any hydrates adhering to the substrates,” Varanasi says.
The research was funded by the Italian energy company Eni S.p.A. through the MIT Energy Initiative.
Wagner Systems Launching Manufacturing Operations near Charleston, SC, USA
Wagner Systems expects to hire 30 people over the next five years at its new operations in Ladson, according to a news release. The company, which has facilities in the US near Chicago, Illinois and in Boulder, Colorado, manufacturers systems for the surface finishing of liquid paints, powder coating and adhesives.
About $2.3 million will be invested into the new facility, located in the Atlas Commerce Center at 8351 Palmetto Commerce Parkway. It is expected to open late this summer. Hiring will begin later this quarter.
Wagner’s coating applications are used in automotive, aerospace, infrastructure, domestic appliances and furniture industries. Wagner Group is headquartered in Markdorf, Germany and has been in the coatings sector for over 70 years. The company has 1,500 employees globally.
BCF Survey Warns of Brexit Risks for Coatings Sector
A major survey conducted by the British Coatings Federation (BCF) has revealed some significant concerns of the coatings sector regarding the economic and regulatory landscape post-Brexit. Coatings are an important “enabling” economic sector to other key industries such as automotive and construction, allowing manufacturing to thrive in the UK, so being able to continue to have a competitive UK manufacturing base for paints, coatings and inks is critical to UK industry.
The survey revealed that the majority of coatings companies see Brexit as a risk, rather than an opportunity, with specific concerns surrounding both tariff and non-tariff barriers. Without free trade or the alignment of UK and EU chemical regulations, 10% of companies said they would consider moving their coatings manufacturing business operations to mainland Europe. Serious concerns were also revealed surrounding additional customs bureaucracy and availability of raw materials.
65% of respondents were UK-owned SMEs, and not surprising given the fact that the UK is a net exporter of coatings and printing inks. 86% of companies confirmed that trade with the EU is important to their businesses, with only one third saying that free trade agreements with the rest of the world would be beneficial.
The BCF, along with other trade associations in the chemical supply chain, recently met with representatives from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for International Trade to discuss the survey results and urge government to ensure the UK remains an attractive place for UK and foreign companies to manufacture paints, coatings, printing inks and wallcoverings. During the meeting, officials recognised the importance of the chemical industry supply chain to the UK economy and the challenges around aligning chemicals regulations post-Brexit.
Tom Bowtell, Chief Executive of the BCF said: “Over three quarters of our members said that a separate UK chemical regulatory system would be bad for business. Maintaining regulatory equivalence with key EU regulations (REACH, CLP and BPR) through continued relations with institutions such as the European Chemicals Agency is essential to ensure we have a strong UK manufacturing base that can import chemical raw materials from Europe, and export finished goods such as paints, coatings printing inks and wallpaper without being at a competitive disadvantage. This is something we’ve made clear to government and will continue to throughout the negotiating process.”
Ellen Daniels, Head of Public Affairs and Policy at the BCF, said: “The survey forms part of the BCF’s Brexit work which involves extensive engagement with government on the importance of our industry, following a roundtable with several government departments last year. Now that the Prime Minister has triggered Article 50, we urge the Government and the EU to negotiate a form of regulatory co-operation that allows current trade arrangements to continue, and to ensure we avoid a bad deal or no deal at all.”
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