NEW YORK — Koch Industries Inc.’s new Invista unit, an $8.4 billion synthetic-fiber behemoth with brands such as Lycra, Coolmax, Cordura and Stainmaster, starts business today after Koch completed its $4.2 billion acquisition of the former DuPont textile subsidiary on Friday and merged it into its KoSa polyester division.
The new Invista has a reach similar to DuPont’s textile unit in its Seventies boom era, when DuPont was a key player in all three major synthetic fibers and had the market clout to promote innovations like Lycra spandex and Dacron polyester. DuPont whittled away its fiber units in the last decade, shedding unprofitable operations and largely abandoning the polyester business.
Koch’s KoSa polyester business was formed in 1998 as a joint venture of Koch and Mexico’s Imasab to purchase the polyester assets of Hoechst Corp. Koch bought out Imasab’s stake in 2001.
Unlike DuPont in its heyday, Invista will face sharper competition from synthetic fiber makers around the world, including Japan’s Teijin Group and Thailand’s Nan Ya Plastics Corp., because of cost-cutting and declining apparel prices.
Executives at privately owned Koch, based in Wichita, Kan., are known to take a razor-sharp approach to costs and margins. Invista’s unions have said the unit is offering smaller retirement packages than DuPont. Invista’s rivals will be watching how the business changes under its new ownership.
“Our focus for the near future is to enhance this business’ ability to create superior value for our global customers,” Invista chief executive officer Jeff Walker said in a statement. “This combination of Invista’s strengths, primarily in nylon and spandex, and KoSa’s polyester capabilities, will position us to compete successfully.”
Koch said in a statement that Invista management initially will focus on “making decisions to design efficient businesses and manufacturing asset structures.”
Before the sale, DuPont’s Invista unit employed about 5,000 people. A Koch spokeswoman declined to comment on how many workers the combined businesses will employ, saying much remained “to be worked out.”