Dow and Bayer extend global reach in cellulosics field

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

The Dow Chemical Company has reached an agreement to purchase the
Germany-based Wolff Walstrode business from the Bayer Group - a
move that will make the company a part of Dow's Water Soluble
Polymers business.

Water soluble polymers play an important part in cosmetic and toiletry formulation, for a wide variety of applications, including softening, rinsing, rheology modification, conditioning and stabilizing.

In 2005 Wolff Walsrode employed 1,500 people and a revenue of more than €329m, derived from its business with the cosmetics and toiletries industry, together with other areas including the construction and food industries.

The company specialises in the development and manufacturing of a variety of products based on the natural material cellulose. It produces hydroxyethyl methyl cellulose (HEMC), carboxmethyl cellulose (CMC) and nitro cellulose (NC), all of which have applications in the personal care sector.

Bayer announced in March 2006 that it would be divesting its interest in the company and says that the proceeds of the sales will go towards financing the acquisition of pharmaceuticals player Schering.

"The acquisition will create a $ 1 billion performance business for Dow. We will accelerate growth, ensure long-term supply, and offer a broad portfolio of differentiated solutions by expanding our collective expertise and capabilities,"​ said Romeo Kreinberg, Dow's executive vice president for the Performance Plastics and Chemicals portfolio.

The acquisition will give Dow a foothold in areas of the business where it is not currently well represented, particular in the production of HEMC and CMC, where Wolff Walsrode is a significant player.

Likewise, the two companies say that their joint expertise in the area of cellulosics is an excellent basis for further growth in this category, which is particularly popular for products that serve thickening and stabilizing functions in cosmetic and oral care products.

Ultimately Dow says that acquisition should serve to boost its performance business portfolio, and is expected be closed within the first half of 2007.

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