By Charlotte Eyre, EPN
Eni has rebranded its Italy-based chemicals division as Versalis and announced a four-year, â‚¬1.6bn investment plan at the Plast2012 show in Milan. The plan includes a budget of euro 500 million to double sales revenues in the elastomers business through capacity expansions and acquisition.
At a press conference at the show, Versalis CEO Daniele Ferrari said the company was about 10 years behind the times in terms of investment and international expansion.
â€œBefore the emphasis was just on sustaining the industry, there was no clear growth strategy,â€ he said. â€œThe there came a point when we thought what can we do? How can we make the business more profitable?â€
In the four-year period from 2012 to 2015, the company will invest euro 1.6bn in re-launching failing Italian production sites, growing the elastomers business and expanding into new business areas. Eni estimates that this expansion of the product portfolio will increase sales by 50 percent.
Part of the investment - â‚¬500m - will be used to construct a new industrial complex at the site in Porto Torres, Italy, which produces bio-monomers and bio-polymers in partnership with Novamont. Versalis plans to build seven production plants in three phases over the next five years, and a new research centre opened at the site in February 2012.
Other investment plans include euro 350m for the chemical plant at Priolo, Italy, where Versalis will build new plants to increase profitability, and euro 500m for developing the elastomers business. The objective for the latter investment is to double the company's turnover, increasing the current 15% margin to 30% in the next 5 years, by strengthening the current production lines and developing existing capacity at plants in the UK and Italy.
Ferrari said Versalis is also looking to increase its business in emerging markets in Asia and Latin America.
â€œWe are always looking at acquisitions, especially bolt-on types of deals for quick integration,â€ he said. â€œWe are looking at Asia, as well as Latin America, and we are convinced that South-East Asia is going to be the new China.â€