Celanese and Mitsui Extend Strategic Partnerships

28.02.2023 - US chemical group Celanese is extending one existing strategic collaboration with Japan’s Mitsui and establishing a new one. Added to the 50:50 methanol joint venture will be a new 30:70 JV in food ingredients, in which the Japanese partner will hold the majority.

Terms and conditions of the Fairway Methanol, joint company, which produces the commodity chemical at Celanese’s Clear Lake, Texas, facility have been extended through 2045.

Later this year, the Pasadena, Texas-based methanol producer expects to complete a capacity expansion of 130,000 t/y, taking output capability to 1.62 million t/y. The plant will utilize 60% of the CO2 emissions from surrounding production facilities at Clear Lake as feedstock.

Because the source of the CO2 is vented gas, operating costs will be comparable to using natural gas as a feedstock, Celanese chairman and CEO Lori Reyerkerk said when announcing the capacity upgrade in 2021.

Food ingredients JV incorporates Sunett sweetener

The creation of the new food ingredients producer will see Celanese folding its related assets, technology and employees into the standalone venture.

Celanese Food Ingredients regards itself as a leading producer of acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) sweetener as well as sorbic acid and potassium sorbate preservatives, a legacy of its time as part of the now defunct Hoechst chemical conglomerate.

Hoechst was the inventor of and Celanese is the only Western producer of the Sunett branded zero-calorie, high-intensity sweetener.

On a 2022 pro-forma basis, the Celanese food ingredients business generated net sales of roughly $170 million and EBITDA of $45-50 million. The new JV will combine the technology, product portfolio and backward integration of Celanese with Mitsui’s long-standing positions in a variety of food supply chains across Asia and other regions, the Dallas, Texas-based group said.

Celanese’s Acetyl Chain business will continue to meet the full acetyls raw material needs of the food ingredients JV under a long-term supply agreement.

“Mitsui has been a trusted and collaborative partner to Celanese for many years and we are pleased to be taking these actions to extend our strategic partnership across these two JVs,” Ryerkerk said.

The food ingredients partnership will allow Celanese to monetize a majority of its related business in a value accretive way and also maintain the demand benefits of raw material integration with the Acetyl Chain, the CEO added.

Cash proceeds from the asset transfer will be used to pay down debt and represent a “meaningful early step “in the group’s deleveraging plan.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist