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Lanxess to sell Dorlastan fibres to Asahi Kasei

By Liz White, UT staffLeverkusen, Germany-Lanxess GmbH has announced that it plans to sell its unprofitable Dorlastan polyurethane fibres business to Asahi Kasei Fibers Corp. (AKF) of Osaka, Japan, as part of a continuing plan by the Bayer AG spin-off to reorganise its portfolio. The firms have signed a memorandum of understanding and Lanxess said the agreement is expected to be signed shortly. “The Dorlastan fibres business has suffered for many years from the migration of textile markets to Asia,” said Lanxess chairman, Dr Axel Heitmann, in a company statement “Selling the business to AKF enables Lanxess to avoid closing the Dormagen site, which has been unprofitable for years,” he added. The company indicated that 110 jobs will be lost at Dormagen, and another 30 at its US facility in Bushy Park, South Carolina. Lanxess and AKF did not disclose the purchase price. Competition authorities must approve the purchase, before it proceeds. This sale is Lanxess’s first portfolio adjustment. The group has made no secret of the fact that it wants to sell, or put into partnerships, activities with, “better prospects as part of another company.” According to Lanxess, it has agreed a gradual reduction in employment at Dormagen with AKF, which will make the business more competitive. About 170 of the current 280 employees will transfer to AKF. Limited restructuring is also planned for Bushy Park, said Lanxess. AKF plans to retain 160 of the 190 employees at the US plant, with the cuts spread over two years and mainly involving temporary staff.AKF’s addition of Dorlastan will enable the Japanese fibre maker to strengthen its position in synthetic elastic fibres and expand its geographical presence, Heitmann said. In the year to the end of March 2005, AKF employed about 2500 people and had sales of approximately Euro 750 million. Lanxess has been making Dorlastan polyurethane fibres, typically used in elasticated clothing such as swimwear (see picture) since the mid 1960s.

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