Triggered by the recession that began in 2008, major chemical companies are aggressively re-inventing themselves through multi-billion dollar overhauls, reports Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society. Rather than growing through the expansion of existing operations into emerging economies, which continue to suffer from the downturn, large chemical firms are now shedding some of those operations and investing in specialty areas with higher growth.
Marc S. Reisch, senior correspondent at C&EN, explains that in the past five years, three of the world's chemical giants — DuPont, Dow and Clariant — and others have acquired specialty companies positioned in areas where they see market potential. The three companies are currently reorganizing by selling older chunks of their businesses.
The article points out that this buy-sell strategy doesn't always work, but so far, the approach is promising.
DuPont's 2011 purchase of industrial enzyme maker Danisco has been "a game changer" as it sheds its performance chemicals businesses. Dow has forged its way into the advanced materials market in one fell swoop with the purchase of Rohm and Haas in 2009. And Clariant, through its acquisition of the German company Süd Chemie in 2011, has added to its portfolio specialty chemicals, such as catalysts and battery materials, meanwhile selling off less desirable assets, such as their textile chemicals unit.