Solvay Undergoes Major Changes

Solvay Announces New Chief Executive Officer Oct. 16

Ilham Kadri will replace Jean-Pierre Clamadieu as Solvay chief executive officer, chair of the executive committee and member of the company’s board of directors beginning March 1, 2019.

Kadri will join Solvay on January 1, 2019, and work with Clamadieu for two months during the transition period.

Solvay’s board of directors appointed Kadri, who recently served as CEO and president of U.S. hygiene technology and services firm Diversey. She also worked for multinational corporations such as Huntsman, Dow Chemical and Shell-Basell across the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Holding both Moroccan and French nationalities, Kadri has an engineering degree from the European School of Chemistry, Polymers and Materials Science in Strasbourg, France, and a PhD in macromolecular physico-chemistry from Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg.

“I’m looking forward to joining the Group whose passion for science, its values and transformation echo my own personal and professional journey,” she said in a Solvay news release. “Early next year, I will work alongside Solvay’s teams to accelerate value creation based on innovation, collaboration, a customer centric culture and a clear sense of purpose. These fundamentals will guide my actions at Solvay.”

Clamadieu has the support of the French government to become the new chairman of gas and power group ENGIE. He replaces ENGIE founder Gerard Mestrallet, who retired. The ENGIE board of directors unanimously appointed Clamadieu as its new chairman after the general shareholders meeting last May.

Solvay Divestment of Polyamides Business to BASF Moves Ahead

Solvay announced Oct. 16 that divestment of its polyamide business to BASF is moving forward because BASF is offering remedies to address the European Commission’s concern about competition in that market segment.

The remedies involve separating the assets originally included in the acquisition, such as the innovation capabilities and manufacturing assets of Solvay’s polyamide intermediate and engineering plastics business in Europe. In a Solvay press release, the company said the assets proposed as remedies would be able to compete successfully as stand-alone businesses under third-party ownership.

The European Commission is examining the remedies and submitting them to market testing before completing its review procedure of BASF’s proposed acquisition.

The press release said that both companies will continue to operate their businesses separately until the transaction is completed and consultation with employee representatives is finished.

Solvay Takes Steps to Reinvent Itself

Solvay is taking several steps to transform its business from production of vinyls and cellulose acetate, to specialty chemicals.

Last spring, the company announced it was putting its customers at the “core” of its organization to enhance its long-term growth as an advanced materials and specialty chemicals company. It also announced it would “simplify its organization” by cutting about 675 jobs, “mainly in functional activities.”

This transition to specialty chemicals led to a reorganization of research and development work, but the company has not said how many scientific jobs will be cut. Also, Solvay is transferring some 500 employees, over four years, from Paris and Aubervilliers, France, to Lyon, France and Brussels, Belgium.

By the end of June, the company had completed information/consultation procedures with employee representatives regarding the changes.

Besides its agreement to sell its nylon 6,6 business to BASF—which the European Commission is investigating because BASF would have a large market share in engineering polymers—Solvay completed the sale of its Charleston, S.C., facility to German specialty chemicals company Lanxess in February 2018 for $68 million. The Charleston plant produced phosphorus derivatives-based products.

Last March, Solvay announced the sale of its Porto Marghera plant in Italy, which makes hydrofluoric acid, to Alkeemia, part of the Italian Fluorsid Group. This sale is part of Solvay Specialty Polymers’ strategy to focus on specialties to improve the sustainability of its productions.

The company committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million tons by 2025. To reach this goal, it will improve its energy efficiency, energy mix and invest in clean technologies.

Solvay CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu said that setting an absolute target ensures “our growth does not come at the expense of the planet, and places us at the forefront of the chemical industry.”

In September, the company said its growth will be led by advanced materials, such as high-performance polymers in cars and planes, and advanced formulations used in mining, oil and gas, and farming. The company forecasted that its profits would grow between 6 percent and 9 percent in underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EPITDA) for the period 2019-2021. This would be at a similar rate to the previous three-year period.


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