Today, Lucite International’s new Alpha 1 plant in Singapore has achieved its first milestone producing more than 1000 metric tonnes of in-specification product. Nick Cordingley, Lucite International Singapore General Manager said: ‘The plant continues to run very steadily at the planned 50,000 metric tonnes per year rate and will be held at this rate whilst the customer approval stage is completed. Samples for customer evaluation are being sent out on November 19 to start this process.”
The Board of Lucite International Group Limited is delighted to announce that the world’s first Alpha plant has begun producing methyl methacrylate (MMA).
The new 120,000 tes plant is located on Jurong Island in Singapore and will supply customers in Asia, where demand for MMA has grown most rapidly. Alpha technology offers 40% savings over existing technologies in both construction and production and has the potential to revolutionise the cost base of the MMA industry.
The process uses readily available commodity chemicals ethylene, carbon monoxide and methanol as raw materials instead of conventional materials such as hydrocyanic acid and isobutylene. The fact these are so readily available means that future Alpha plants can be sited anywhere in the world and are not subject to the scale limitations which impact the existing MMA processes.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Ian Lambert, Chief Executive of Lucite, said:
“We’ve been developing this revolutionary technology for over a decade. Today’s announcement is an exciting milestone and we are very excited about the opportunities Alpha presents for the future of our business. The combination of low-cost feedstock, increased scale, lower unit capital costs and much higher conversion rates than existing processes, means that an immediate step change in cost performance will be achieved by our plant in Singapore, which will be the lowest cost MMA plant in the world when it achieves full production later this year.”
Lucite International’s second Alpha plant, which is already in an advanced stage of planning, will be designed with a 250,000 tes capacity.
The Board of Lucite International Group Limited (“Lucite” or the “Company”), has announced that the Company is to be acquired by Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd. (“Mitsubishi Rayon”) for a total cash consideration of approximately $1.6 billion. The acquisition, which is subject to approval by the relevant regulatory authorities, is expected to be completed by the end of January 2009.
Lucite is the world’s leading manufacturer of methyl methacrylate (MMA) and owner of the globally renowned Lucite® and Perspex brands®. The Company was formed from an amalgamation of the acrylics businesses of ICI and DuPont in 1993 and has been majority owned by the private equity investor, Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP, since 1999. Lucite owns the new low cost and proprietary MMA production route, known as Alpha technology. The Company has invested in the development of this new technology, which fundamentally changes the economics of MMA manufacturing, and the first Alpha plant has begun to manufacture MMA in Singapore in the last few days and will be fully operational by the end of this year.
The acquisition will make Mitsubishi Rayon the global leader in this market and confirms its position as the leading acrylics manufacturer in the fast growing Asian markets. The acquisition will lift Mitsubishi Rayon’s annual sales to approximately ¥600 billion, putting it well on the way towards achieving its target of ¥1 trillion annual sales. In the year ended 31 December 2007, Lucite generated revenues of £849 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £114 million.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Ian Lambert, Chief Executive of Lucite, said:
“The Board of Lucite International welcomes the acquisition of the Group by Mitsubishi Rayon today. We believe the new combined enterprise will create an opportunity for significant cross learning, productivity and efficiency gains that will benefit our customers and stakeholders. We look forward to working with Mitsubishi Rayon to realise the full potential from the combination of our two companies.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the support of Charterhouse Capital Partners who have enabled the group to sustain the highest standards of safe operation and to grow by, for example, investing in new facilities in China and the development of our revolutionary Alpha technology including the latest investment in Singapore.
Masanao Kambara, President of Mitsubishi Rayon, added:
“The acquisition of Lucite will give us an unprecedented range of production technologies in the industry, enabling us to adapt more flexibly to raw material trends and better serve our customers. In addition, the two companies’ proprietary technological expertise is also expected to lead to improved cost efficiency, bearing fruit in the form of further growth in the enlarged group’s revenues and earnings. We are delighted to have concluded our agreement with the Board of Lucite and welcome them to the Mitsubishi Rayon group.”
Lucite was advised by Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch and Mitsubishi Rayon by Credit Suisse Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Securities.
Lucite International (LI) has been recognised with a regional National Training Award for a continuous learning programme aimed at its Cassel plant-based employees in the UK. The programme was designed and developed in conjunction with two local companies (Dynamic Distance Learning and Branta), which meant that the Company received a special Partnership Award. LI’s Learning & Development Manager, Jessica McCole, commented: “It’s fantastic to receive external recognition for all the hard work that so many people have put into the project over the past few years. We’re delighted with the way in which the continuous learning programme has had such a positive effect on both individual employees and on our business as a whole.”
The National Training Awards are the UK’s number one accolade for businesses, organisations and individuals who have achieved lasting excellence and success through training and learning. The Awards recognise and celebrate the vital link between training and development, business success and personal growth. As a winner, LI has been judged to demonstrate significant benefits from exceptionally effective learning and skills development.
Lucite International’s Cassel site in Billingham, UK has won the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) Skills Award, which recognised the company that has done most to contribute to the acquisition of skills through its workforce. Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the CIA commented: “Lucite International has a long history of investment in training and development to ensure the safety of its people, enrich jobs and enhance the performance of individuals, teams and the business. The Company has a flexible system which enhances the skills of staff and provides a structured approach for new starter to acquire and practice the skills they need. Working with third parties, a variety of approaches have been adopted, which, amongst other benefits, enables each production technician to reach NVQ level 3.”
Lucite International has been ranked 51st in the UK’s seventh annual Top Track 100 league table, which was published in The Sunday Times on 29 June 2008.
Top Track 100 ranks Britain’s biggest private companies, based on sales in their latest accounts. This year, sales ranged from £519m to £18.8bn with profits, defined as earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), ranging from £31m to £1.5bn.
FreeFlow is Lucite International’s quarterly magazine that focuses on the dynamics of the MMA industry in Europe, Africa and Middle East (EMEA). Its aim is to share information and market intelligence to help its local customers and partners in this important and growing sector of the industry. Now in its second year, the current issue of FreeFlow includes an MMA market review by Malcolm Kidd, Lucite International’s Commercial Director for Monomers in the EMEA region, news of the Company’s Alpha 1 plant in Singapore together with features on Safety and an important customer, Scheer Surface Solutions, based in Germany. You can view FreeFlow on this site by visiting www.luciteeur.com/monomers.asp or by clicking here.
Lucite International’s EMEA team has also produced a REACH booklet which offers guidance specifically for those involved with the downstream use of substances within Europe. The guide can be viewed by visiting www.luciteeur.com/reach.asp or by clicking here .
On 25 March 2008, the Alpha 1 construction project reached 3 million man-hours of incident-free working at the Company’s site in Singapore. The achievement sets a new benchmark for Lucite International (LI) and means that the Company and its contractor partners, led by Foster Wheeler, have clocked up more than 630 safe work days without a lost-time incident. Extensive planning and training before work commenced on site together with intense day-to-day focus on safety as the number one priority throughout the entire construction phase have helped the project to achieve such an impressive track record. The safety programme involves constant attention to all aspects of safety and prevention of risks. It includes; pre-work orientation, training for all personnel – more than 4800 people have accomplished training and a written test, available in six different languages (Bangladeshi, Chinese, English, Indian, Malay and Thai), safety inspections, regular updates, daily meetings and site reviews to ensure the safety culture is embraced and lived by all. LI’s Senior Project Manager, Geoff Muir spoke on behalf of the Company: “We are absolutely delighted with this outstanding milestone. Our congratulations go to each and everyone of our own people and the extended Foster Wheeler Team who have truly put safety first on Alpha 1”.
The Alpha 1 construction project continues to achieve new records for safe working with the 2.5 million man-hours, incident-free milestone being reached on February 14 2008. Senior Project Manager, Geoff Muir said: “Lucite International’s number one priority is safety and nothing is more important than ensuring that our people go home at the end of each day unharmed. We continue to dedicate considerable resource to ensure that safety remains high in everyone’s consciousness and to achieving excellent safety standards. Our consistent performance, where we continue to reach major incident-free milestones, is made possible by a strong commitment from everyone within the Company and from working in close partnership with the main contractor, Foster Wheeler and their subcontractors.”
Perspex® Vision is the latest innovative material in the Perspex® from Lucite® product portfolio. The Vision range includes two made to order products; Perspex® Clear Vision and Perspex® Hi Vision, both of which give excellent clarity and pin point definition to rear projection screens, which are used primarily in the advertising, point of sale and communications industries. After successful test marketing, led by Milan-based Adreani SpA, which has more than 50 years experience as distributing Perspex all over Italy, the products are now launched and are expected to attract major interest from architects, specifiers and designers in the construction industry as well as satisfying the needs of the highly creative advertising and promotions market. For more information about Perspex Vision, visit www.lucitesolutions.com
Lucite International is pleased to announce that its Alpha 1 construction project has achieved two million (2,000,000) safe man-hours without a Lost Time Injury or reportable incident. This achievement demonstrates a steadfast commitment to safety throughout the project and is further evidence of the Company’s determination to maintain the highest levels of safety performance. Commenting on the news, Senior Project Manager, Geoff Muir said: “It takes time, money, resources and dedication to maintain high safety standards and to achieve such a milestone. But every minute and every cent is well worth the investment as it ensures everyone goes home safely at the end of each day, and nothing is more valuable than the safety of our people. The sustained safety performance has been made possible by strong commitment from everyone within the Company and from our main contractors, Foster Wheeler and their subcontractors.”