Arkema Outlines Strategy, Proposes Divestments
In a strategy meeting held on Apr. 2 to outline its ambition to become a “world leader in specialty materials,” French chemicals group Arkema also revealed intentions for its methyl methacrylate/polymethyl methacrylate (MMA/PMMA), fluorogases and Asia acrylics businesses.
CEO Thierry Le Hénaff said the company will undertake a review of its strategic options for MMA/PMMA, explore possible alternatives to minimize its exposure to the most emissive applications of its fluorogases and rebalance Asia Acrylics between its upstream and downstream operations.
He added that the best option for MMA/PMMA would be a sale, although Arkema cannot progress such a move at the moment given the current coronavirus crisis.
With regard to the fluorogases business, the specialty segment is expected to be combined with the rest of the company’s specialties operations, while the remaining portion with the most emissive applications, such as air conditioning and refrigeration, will either be sold or partnered.
Asia Acrylics, which produces acrylic acid in China, will be restructured to give it a better balance as Le Hénaff said it has too much monomer capacity. On Sept. 27, 2019, Arkema became the sole owner of Chinese acrylics company Taixing Sunke Chemicals after buying out its joint venture partner.
The French firm also outlined its objectives for 2024, by when it aims to be a “pure specialty materials player, with a resilient and focused portfolio characterized by high profitability and strong cash generation.” Arkema noted that it has undertaken an in-depth transformation since it was spun out of Total in 2006, with specialty materials now accounting for almost 80% of its sales.
As part of its objectives, the company will align its specialty materials operations around three businesses with “attractive growth prospects.” These are adhesive solutions, advanced materials and coating solutions. Arkema’s goal is to generate sales of €10-11 billion and an EBITDA margin of about 17% for the specialty materials business compared with 15.8% today.
An intermediates division will comprise MMA/PMMA, fluorogases and Asia Acrylics, in effect consolidating those activities with volatile results and which are now subject to specific and different strategies than the specialties businesses.
Arkema said it intends to build on its innovation projects and investments, including expanding specialty nylons in Asia, along with continuing to play an active part in consolidating the adhesives market.
Last year, the company’s Bostik arm acquired LIP Bygningsartikler, a leading Danish producer of tile adhesives, waterproofing systems and floor preparation solutions, as well as Prochimir, a French specialist in high-performance thermobonding adhesive films.
Arkema noted that the 2024 targets constitute its “best current estimates,” and achieving these will depend on the duration and long-term economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The company is predicting that the impact of Covid-19 on its first-quarter 2020 EBITDA will be €40-50 million.