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Arkema continues speciality focus

Arkema has complete the sale of its Functional Polyolefins business to SK Global Chemical as previously announced. This is said to be in line with the company’s strategy of refocusing on speciality materials by 2024, as is another new deal with integrated agricultural company Nutrien in the US.

Functional Polyolefins was part of Arkema’s PMMA activity, making ethylene copolymers and terpolymers for the food packaging, cable, electronics and coatings markets. It had sales of about €250 million/year, an and 130 employees, all of whom will transfer to SK.

With Nutrien, Arkema has signed a long-term supply contract for anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (AHF), the main raw material for fluorine chemistry, to its site at Calvert City, Kentucky. Roughly equal amounts will be used the production of polymers and fluoro-derivatives for applications in water treatment, electronics and batteries; and low global warming potential fluorogases.

As part of this agreement, Arkema will invest $150 million in a 40,000 tonnes/year facility at Nutrien’s site in Aurora, North Carolina, to start up in 1H 2022. This will produce AHF from phosphate rather than the usual mined fluorspar, thus reducing both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Back in April, Arkema presented “its ambition to become a world leader in speciality materials, realigned around three coherent businesses with attractive growth prospects”. By 2024, it aims to be a pure player in this field with “a resilient and focused portfolio, characterised by high profitability and strong cash generation”.

The three main future growth businesses of Adhesive Solutions, Advanced Materials, and Coating Solutions will be reported as individual divisions. These already account for 80% of sales, following a long-term focus on them since 2006. The divestment of its MMA and PMMA businesses was mentioned as a possibility at the time. The key financial aims, by 2024, are sales of sales of €10-11 billion/year and an EBITDA margin up from 15.8% to 17%. 

Separately, Arkema joined the World Business Council for Sustanaible Development. CEO Thierry Le Hénaff said that its “mission as an industrial company is to use our expertise in materials science to facilitate the transition to a sustainable world. Together with other WBCSD partners, we will be able to accelerate this transition and provide innovative solutions that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the UN”.


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