UK chems group invests €3M in Porto
The British chemicals group Elementis is to invest €3 million in its first international centre of excellence and research and development laboratory in Portugal, which will open in the first half of 2024 in Porto.
The project will create 100 jobs by the end of 2024 in a lab that will be a showcase for clients from all over Europe. The British company also foresees an annual investment of €6 million on personnel, premises and laboratories.
A listed company in the UK, with operations worldwide, the company has already posed vacancies for 40 professionals in the areas of human resources, legal, commercial, purchasing, research and development.
“Staff based in Porto will collaborate with Elementis teams in Europe and the US, bu some of their functions will have a global reach”, states the company in a communiqué.
The company, founded in 1844, employs 1,300 people in more than 24 locations worldwide. Elementis is one of the world’s largest producers of chromium chemicals; Elementis Pigments the world’s second largest producer of synthetic iron oxide pigments.
The company has extensive operations in the United States, Europe and Asia. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
Its predecessor business, Harrisons & Crosfield, was formed in 1844 as a tea merchant and traded under that name for 150 years. It became one of the leading British firms in the south-east Asia plantations industry before it gradually divested its interests in the post-colonial era. Diversification initially concentrated on chemicals, timber and builders’ merchants and animal foodstuffs. Eventually, the firm concentrated only on chemicals and changed its name to Elementis.
The 1990s were years of acquisitions, diversification and change. The purchase of American Rheox in 1998 for US$ 465 million was one of the largest chemical acquisitions. Elementis now stood as the world’s largest producer of chromium chemicals; Elementis Pigments the world’s second largest producer of synthetic iron oxide pigments and the Rheox business was the world’s largest producer of rheological additives for coatings.
Chromium was further enlarged with the acquisition of the chromium chemicals business of OxyChem in the US in 2002, making it the country’s largest producer. This was followed by the construction of a chromium plant in China in 2004.
In that same year, Elementis acquired the Dutch Sasol Servo, a supplier of coatings additives, for €48 million. One negative was the unprofitability of the UK chromium business and the plant was controversially closed in 2009.
Further small acquisitions to enlarge the coatings business were made in 2012 and 2013: Watercryl Quimica Ltda of Brazil provided an entry to Latin America and in the US, Hi-Mar was a leading supplier of defoamers to the coatings, construction and oilfield drilling industries.
Increased specialisation led to the disposal of the specialty rubber, international pigments and the surfactants businesses. A further change in emphasis to the Elementis business came with the move into personal care with the acquisition of Fancor, one of North America’s largest lanolin and lanolin derivatives suppliers. This was a prelude to a more substantial acquisition when in 2017 Elementis nearly trebled its personal care business with the purchase of SummitReheis for US$ 362 million; based in the US and Germany it specialised in anti-perspirant additives.
This was followed in 2018 by the creation of a new division by the US$600m acquisition of Mondo Minerals, described as the “second largest producer of premium talc based additives in the world”.
Following this acquisition, the group’s main divisions were then described as personal care; coatings; talc; chromium; and energy.
During 2020 and 2021 Elementis rejected three offers from US rival Minerals Technologies (MTX), and a £929.3 million cash and stock offer from US chemicals firm Innospec (IOSP). It dismissed the approaches as significantly undervaluing the company.