Solutia purchase not expected to affect Anniston plant
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Jan 30, 2012 | 6822 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Solutia chemical plant in Anniston will likely have a different owner soon, but operations are expected to continue as usual, a company representative said Monday.

Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical Co. announced Friday its $3.4 billion deal to purchase Solutia Inc., which has chemical manufacturing facilities across the country. Representatives from both companies said Monday that none of Solutia’s facilities should be affected by the purchase.

“At this point, decisions regarding this have not yet been made and I am not aware of Eastman’s plans for the site,” said Melissa Zona, director of corporate communications at Solutia’s St. Louis headquarters. “However, as far as I know there are no plans to shut down any of Solutia’s manufacturing operations, including the Anniston facility.”

Zona said the acquisition would likely not be final until mid-2012, at which time more details about the deal will emerge. She said the deal will still take several months to finalize because it requires the approval of Solutia shareholders and federal regulatory agencies.

Tracy Broadwater, spokeswoman for Eastman Chemical, said that her company currently had no plans for layoffs or closures at the Anniston Solutia plant.

“Though it is very early in the process, we do not expect any significant impacts to Solutia's manufacturing sites,” Broadwater said. “Please keep in mind that we do not expect to close on the acquisition of Solutia until mid-2012, at which time we will be able to speak more specifically. Until then, it is business as usual for all Eastman and Solutia sites.”

Solutia currently employs roughly 85 people at its Anniston plant. The facility manufactures Therminol, a synthetic heat-transfer fluid used in the manufacturing and solar energy markets. It also makes Skydrol, a leading aviation hydraulic fluid for commercial aircraft.

The purchase deal comes four years after Solutia emerged from bankruptcy-court protection, restructuring after it spun off from the Monsanto Company. When still under Monsanto, the local chemical plant produced PCBs from 1929 to 1971, contaminating parts of west Anniston. The contamination led to a $300 million lawsuit settlement in 2003 awarded to the west Anniston residents exposed to the contamination. The settlement also resulted in Solutia’s establishing the Community Advisory Group and the Anniston Community Education Foundation, which among other activities provides scholarships to area students.

Zona said Solutia would continue its responsibilities with those organizations until the deal with Eastman is finalized.

“The responsibility will transfer to Eastman once the deal is finalized,” Zona said.

Zona said the acquisition would help both companies since the two manufacturers have few overlapping products. She noted that the products made at the Anniston plant are currently owned by Solutia and are not made by competing companies.

“They are complementary,” Zona said of the Solutia and Eastman. “We do not manufacture the same products.”

In a recent press release, Eastman CEO Jim Rogers said the purchase would help his company expand on the global market.

“The acquisition of Solutia is a significant step in our growth strategy and one that I am confident will strengthen Eastman as a top-tier specifically chemical company with strong, stable margins,” Rogers said. “The addition of Solutia will broaden our geographic reach into emerging geographies, particularly Asia-Pacific.”

Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256-235-3561.

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