A maker and marketer of differentiated chemicals, Huntsman is a group of conglomerates dealing in diversified business areas like chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, footwear, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, detergent, personal care, furniture, appliances and packaging.
Originally known for pioneering innovations in packaging, and later, for rapid and integrated growth in petrochemicals, Huntsman today is backed by workforce of 14,000 employees and over 75 operations spread across 24 countries. The Company embarked revenues over $13 billions in 2006.
On June 30, 2006, the group acquired Ciba's Textile Effects. Now, the merged business, the Huntsman Materials & Effects division is a leading global producer and seller of technologically advanced epoxy, acrylic and polyurethane-based polymer products and textile chemicals & effects. It focuses on formulations and systems used to address customer-specific needs in a wide variety of industrial and consumer applications. It operates 22 synthesis, formulating and production facilities worldwide. In 2006, the division had $1.3 billion sales.
Paul G Hulme is the Division President for Advanced Materials, since June 2003. Mr Hulme served as VP, Performance Chemicals from February 2000 to May 2003, and from December 1999 to February 2000 as Operations Director, Polyurethanes. Before joining Huntsman in 1999, he held various positions with ICI in finance, accounting and information systems roles. He holds the degree of Chartered Accountant.
Interviewed by Face2Face team, Mr Hulme shares about the company’s core values, group’s Material & Effects business, and also a word on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and concern for environment.
What core textile and footwear sector interests does Huntsman serve today?
"Huntsman provides solutions for textile manufacturers to enhance processing of textiles as well as to deliver superior effects on textiles valued by the consumer. Processing includes preparation, dyeing and finishing of fabrics. Effects range from fashion effects in apparel and home textiles to performance effects in technical textiles.Huntsman is also supplying Polyurethane formulations for the manufacturing of sports, casual and work footwear."
Can we term the year 2006 as the Year of Acquisitions for Huntsman?
2006 was a pivotal year for Huntsman’s overall portfolio as the company repositioned itself in the differentiated and specialty products and moved away from base chemicals. In 2006, Huntsman sold its UK based Petrochemicals business to SABIC and acquired Textile Effects from Ciba. This trend will continue in 2007. We recently announced the divesture of the US Polymers and Base chemical business – transaction to be closed in quarter 4 this year, and we will continue to look to expand and enhance our differentiated portfolio during the next two years.
How does Textile Effects acquisition of Ciba Specialty Chemicals bode for Huntsman as a global entity?
"The Textile Effects business has proven to be a very attractive business and we are confident that it will greatly enhance the overall enterprise value of the Huntsman portfolio. Huntsman has committed to invest approx $150 MM in order to restructure the business, increase its investment in on-going research and development in support of innovation, and will invest in key growth projects /development markets. After a period of two years, we expect the business to return 15% EBITDA / Sales. The Textile Effect business today is approx $1.0 billion turnover and we expect to further expand our no. 1 position in this global market estimated at $11 billion. (NB: Huntsman is no. 1 in the combined textile chemicals and textile dyes market with an estimated market share of 9%). We see growth opportunities in the high-value technical textile market, especially in Europe and in the US, and tremendous growth potential in the apparel production in India, China and other Asian countries. "
What core values does Huntsman deliver through its valued products and services?
Environment, health and safety are the top priorities for Huntsman at any level. This influences everything we do from manufacturing to the products and solution that we offer to the markets we serve. Huntsman is currently undergoing a massive portfolio shift, divesting its commodity businesses and further investing in its differentiated business units. The “new” Huntsman is poised to develop and deliver high value products to a wide range and diversified market sectors e.g. Aerospace, Construction, Automotive, Electronics, Personal care to apparel. In order to grow this business in a sustainable way, the company also continues to increase its investment in fundamental research and innovation.
Your state-of-the-art multi-million dollar Process Development facility at its Conroe, Texas specialties plant has just opened. Can you tell us more on this?
This new facility belongs to the Huntsman Performance Products Division that will produce new products in intermediate scale quantities, ranging from a few drums to a railcar of material. Production at this scale ensures a seamless transition to full scale production when the market gets ready.
At US $13 billion overall, how will Huntsman's Textile Effects alone perform in the coming years?
As stated earlier, following two years of restructuring, the Textile Effects business will return an EBITDA/Sales of 15% which provides a return on capital invested and is in-keeping with Huntsman other differentiated business units.
Chemicals business is marked with two way volatility. How does Huntsman wade through 'choppy market waters'?
To manage any portfolio through the ups & downs of the market changes requires a well balanced Divisional and Group’s market portfolio. With the divestment of its commodity businesses, believe that the new Huntsman has a well balanced portfolio and serves a wide range of value added market sectors that will help to ensure that the company delivers consistent and sustainable earnings in the future. In the long term, we see our differentiated business delivering future growth ranging from GDP to 3X GDP in many of its market sectors. Having a broad product spectrum, serving wide range and diverse market sectors and very large global customer base, we are confident to overcome “choppy waters” and deliver consistent and sustainable profits and growth.
A word on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and concern for environment from you, Sir?
"Our social responsibility finds its expression in many facets of our corporation. The most prominent effort is the engagement of our Chairman and founder, Jon Huntsman, in combating cancer. Jon Huntsman and his family have donated several hundred million of their own private money in order to establish the world class Huntsman Cancer Institute and Hospital at the University of Utah. Our employees around the globe have voluntarily contributed to the Institute since its inception.We believe we have a duty to give back to society and to help those who are less fortunate. To that end, we sponsor initiatives to feed the hungry, house the homeless and fund educational programs around the world.In our operations, we put environment, health and safety (EHS) as our top priority. Our social responsibility also takes priority when we acquire a new business and/or assets: our first task is always to rise the EHS standards to the most demanding Huntsman requirements! "