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21 January 2010

German firm to set up rubber plant in Singapore ahead of schedule

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German chemicals giant Lanxess has said it has brought forward the building of a $575 million rubber plant in Singapore to meet demand for tyres as car sales in the region soar, reported AFP.

Company officials told a news conference that construction of the plant that will manufacture butyl rubber, a chemical used to make tyres, would begin in June this year instead of mid-2011.

Production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2013, earlier than its slated 2014 launch. Lanxess, one of Germany's largest listed chemicals groups, had announced last year it would put back the start of production from the facility to 2014 because of the global economic crisis.

However, the pick-up in demand has prompted the change. "The market has driven us to make this decision," Ron Commander, the head of Lanxess' butyl rubber business unit, told reporters. "As of the third quarter of 2009, we saw much more stability in the market... and a lot of growth in Asia, predominantly in China."

Lanxess said global tyre sales are expected to return to pre-economic crisis levels in 2011. The firm will also move the global headquarters for its butyl rubber business to Singapore from Fribourg, Switzerland, this year to meet rising demand for tyres in Asia powered by the region's burgeoning middle class.

Auto sales in the region have been growing for some time as the region's economies grow and last year China overtook the United States as the world's biggest car market.


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