Pasadena, Texas will be the location of a $200 million acrylic acid plant built by AMERICAN ACRYL LLC. The year-old, equally owned joint venture between NIPPON SHOKUBAI CO., LTD.'s U.S. production subsidiary and ELF ATOCHEM NORTH AMERICA, INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 331, April 1997, p. 2) will break ground for the facility in the summer of 1999. Operations are scheduled to start in the second half of the year 2000. Nippon Shokubai will provide the production technology. The partners will split the factory's yearly output of 120,000 tons of acrylic acid, with the Japanese company's half going to NA INDUSTRIES, INC. That Chattanooga, Tennessee manufacturer will use the raw material for its output of superabsorbent polymers. NAI is in the process of boosting its SAP capacity to 60,000 tons a year.
ASAHI CHEMICAL INDUSTRY CO., LTD. will have an onshore source of acrylonitrile. It will participate in a project spearheaded by SOLUTIA INC. to build a world-scale acrylonitrile facility at the applied chemistry company's Chocolate Bayou plant in Alvin, Texas. Under the agreement, Asahi Chemical will have the right to purchase about 100 million pounds of acrylonitrile from the new Solutia plant. The St. Louis business has similar arrangements with BAYER CORP. and NOVUS INTERNATIONAL INC., a St. Louis-headquartered firm owned by MITSUI & CO., LTD. and NIPPON SODA CO., LTD.
With its foray at home into plastic compounding not producing the results expected, KAWASAKI STEEL CORP. transferred responsibility for its high- performance reinforced thermoplastic compounds business in Japan to subsidiary KAWASAKI-LNP INC. The big steelmaker bought the heart of the Exton, Pennsylvania-based plastic compounder, LNP ENGINEERING PLASTICS INC., in 1991. K-LNP will take over production of Verton, which is made from polypropylene and long glass fiber, from its parent. It also will work with KAWASHO CORP., KSC's trading company affiliate, to service existing Japanese customers and develop new Verton applications for Japan's market.
An adjuvant for insecticide, miticide and fungicide sprays developed by KAO CORP. is being made and marketed by HELENA CHEMICAL CO. The Memphis, Tennessee agricultural chemicals company is owned by MARUBENI CORP. Hyper-Active, approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency, improves spray coverage and penetration on both plant and pest surfaces. Kao is working on four other spray adjuvants that it also hopes to sell in the United States.
In a cost-cutting move, TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. merged its U.S. bulk vitamin production and sales units into TAKEDA VITAMIN AND FOOD USA, INC. The new firm is based in Wilmington, North Carolina, where the parent has made vitamin B1 and vitamin C since 1986. Takeda Vitamin and Food employs some 160 people.
CHUGAI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. awarded SCHERING-PLOUGH CORP. exclusive worldwide marketing rights outside Japan to maxacalcitol (22- oxacalcitriol), a vitamin D3 analog for the topical treatment of psoriasis. Under the agreement, the Madison, New Jersey-based company, which is strong in dermatological products, will pay Chugai Pharmaceutical an up- front fee, plus various milestone payments. The drug's developer also will receive royalties on all sales. Schering-Plough will soon begin Phase II clinical trials on the compound.
Hoping to make pharmaceuticals a corporate profit center, big petrochemicals manufacturer MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. has devised a plan to boost revenues by signing royalty-bearing marketing agreements with foreign drug companies on products in its portfolio and by exporting bulk ingredients for pharmaceutical compounds. As a first step, Mitsubishi Chemical has lined up Philadelphia's SMITHKLINE BEECHAM LTD. to market in the United States its blood clot preventative, Argatroban. Next year, the firm expects to release on the American market an AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) drug.
With the start of operations at a plant in East Windsor, New Jersey, SHISEIDO CO., LTD. now has three facilities in the state turning out skin- care products as well as makeup (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 332, May 1997, p. 2). By the year 2000, the new factory will be able to make 70 million products a year. That volume is key to the cosmetics company's plan to boost American production capacity to 200 million units a year by the start of the next decade from 90 million units in 1997. The balance of the expansion will come from increased output at Shiseido's skin- care/makeup plants in Cranbury and Oakland, New Jersey and at subsidiary ZOTOS INTERNATIONAL INC., a Geneva, New York manufacturer of professional hair-care products.
An exchange rate of ¥129=$1.00 was used in this report.