Byline: Scott Malone

NEW YORK — In a move to increase its presence in the Asian textile market, Celanese AG’s acetate unit has agreed to enter into a joint venture with Japanese chemicals maker Teijin Ltd.
The joint-venture company, which has not yet been named, would include Teijin’s Matsuyama acetate filament plant and would receive acetate flake and some filament from Celanese’s plants. The venture is to start up in the first quarter of 2001.
In a phone interview Friday, Gerold Linzbach, president of Celanese’s acetate products division, said, “What we try to do is to have local resources and local contacts at each of the major textile regions. We hadn’t had anything in the Far East. Was it enough of a reason to start something from a green field? No. But it was a good opportunity to go in with a partner.”
Currently, Celanese, with its U.S. headquarters in Summit, N.J., has fewer than 10 employees and agents in Asia, selling acetate produced at its plants in Narrows, Va., Mexico and Belgium.
The joint-venture company would have annual capacity of about 10,000 tons.
At the start, the joint venture, which will have about 100 employees, will target the Korean, Japanese and Chinese markets. Management will be shared.
“We will have the classic board, with the same number of members from both sides,” he said. The general manager of the operation has not yet been determined but, he noted, “It will be a local person.”
Linzbach declined to provide first-year revenue projections for the joint venture.
“This market is not exactly one where you can do a great forecast,” Linzbach said. Shosaku Yasui, Teijin’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that, “By combining Teijin’s and Celanese’s marketing and production capabilities, we will be able to serve the needs of our customers in Japan and Asia more effectively.”
Linzbach also said Celanese is looking for joint-venture partners in other areas of the world.
“The market structure currently, in terms of supply and demand, is not making anyone happy here,” he said.

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