BMS to shut down German/Chinese sites for PC sheets; tough market conditions

Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) is shutting down its production site for polycarbonate sheets in Darmstadt, Germany, against the backdrop of global overcapacity and insufficient demand. European customers will be supplied in the future by the plants in Nera Montoro, Italy, and Tielt, Belgium. The closure in Darmstadt affects 90 employees. The company says it will do everything possible to ensure that this step is conducted in a socially responsible manner.

The German company currently produces sheets at ten locations. The consolidation has also led to decisions in the Asia/Pacific region. For example, the sheet business in Australia and New Zealand as well as the Laserlite brand name are being sold. Furthermore, sheet production in China was consolidated at the Guangzhou site; while the Beijing site was closed.

Behind all of these consolidation measures is the current business situation. Market development in the overall polycarbonate business has changed dramatically in recent years, with new competitors and overcapacities exacerbated by insufficient demand from the customer industries. In light of this difficult situation, the company says it conducted a thorough review of its polycarbonate business model, which includes the global sheet business.

Based on the results of this analysis, it was decided that a consolidation of sheet activities in Europe was also necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the business as a whole and to remain competitive.

Dr Markus Steilemann, Head of the Polycarbonates Business Unit at BMS, is optimistic about the future of the overall business. "The demand for the high-performance plastic polycarbonate continues to grow year-to-year and worldwide at rates that will soon wipe out the current overcapacities. By adjusting our alignment, we are strengthening our leading market position."

Polycarbonate is used in the automotive industry, for example, where it is increasingly displacing glass and metal. Vehicles are thus becoming lighter and consume less fuel. Polycarbonate sheets are the material of choice in the construction industry, in particular, where they are used for train station and airport roofs, carports and greenhouses. Architects also use the plastic in stadium construction projects, such as the stadiums in Brasilia and Natal that are among the venues for the soccer World Cup currently underway.

With 2013 sales of EUR11.2 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world’s largest polymer companies. At the end of 2013, it had 30 production sites and employed approximately 14,300 people around the globe. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.


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