NEW YORK — Invista, the $8.4 billion synthetic fiber powerhouse, said Monday it plans to open a plant in China’s southern Guangdong province that will initially produce 12,000 tons of spandex annually.

The investment, which the Wilmington, Del.-based company valued at $100 million, is Invista’s first such move since being acquired by Koch Industries in April.

The factory, located in the city of Foshan, is projected to employ 100 people and open in mid-2006. Invista said the plant’s capacity could be doubled to 24,000 tons per year after a year.

“I believe this to be a milestone, in that new ownership with new eyes has actually approved the first big capital project since we’ve come from DuPont,” said Bill Ghitis, president of global apparel for the former DuPont unit.

Invista planned for the fibers produced at the plant to be made into garments for local consumption, he said.

“We’re investing in China for the Chinese textile industry and the Chinese consumer,” Ghitis said. “We’re not going to be making stuff in China to export.”

Invista operates 32 factories on four continents, producing spandex, polyester and nylon. It operates at two sites in China: a plant outside Shanghai and a joint venture in the city of Lianyungang, in Jiangsu province.

Ghitis called the proposed plant “the first of several projects that we will be approving globally.” He said the firm will “also be looking at acquisitions.”

Earlier this year, Invista rolled out a consumer marketing campaign in China for its Lycra brand. In that market, the brand name will be pronounced “Laika,” he said. Its name in Chinese characters means “magical experience.”

With the 147 nations of the World Trade Organization set to drop their quotas on textiles and apparel on Jan. 1, China is expected to expand its position as the U.S.’s leading source of textiles and apparel. For the year ended in July, Chinese suppliers shipped $13.08 billion worth of those goods, a 22.2 percent increase from the previous year, giving it a 16.6 percent market share, according to Commerce Department data.

This story first appeared in the September 21, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

— Scott Malone