Grangemouth plastics facility is put on the market

MP Michael Connarty and Dow Chemical boss Luis Argilaguet
MP Michael Connarty and Dow Chemical boss Luis Argilaguet

The future is uncertain for 74 employees of a local plastics plant after its owners put it up for sale.

Earlier this year US-based Dow Chemical’s announced changes to the way it managed its business interests around the world and stated it was considering placing its plastic additive-producing site in Wholeflats Road, Grangemouth, on the market.

This week it was confirmed the site is now up for sale and being marketed as a going concern.

Falkirk East MP Michael Connarty visited site manager Luis Argilaguet recently to get some background on the current situation.

Mr Connarty said: “Dow entered into an earlier sale of assets to a Kuwaiti company for their plastics, polyethylene and polypropylene production facilities to help fund the purchase of 30 sites worldwide from Rhom and Haas, which had seven plastic additive facilities including Grangemouth.

“Unfortunately the Kuwaitis pulled out of the deal and left Dow with debt levels from the Rohm and Haas purchase that they need to bring down, so the decision has been taken to sell all seven plastics additive sites in Europe.”

Mr Connarty said he felt Mr Argilaguet and his team seemed positive about the site being sold as a going concern and not, as happened in the past to Grangemouth’s GE Plastics, being sold off only to be closed down.

“The site is being prepared for sale,” Mr Connarty continued. “Which means a continuing emphasis on the consistent quality of production and efficiency, including health and safety.”

He said talks had been held with Brian Stewart of Scottish Enterprise’s Chemicals Group and he had undertaken to contact Scottish Enterprise to discuss what concrete assistance they could offer to make the facility more attractive to a potential buyer.

“I will be making every effort to help Dow and Scottish Enterprise maintain the plant at Grangemouth as a continuing and important manufacturing site in Grangemouth and Scotland.”

Dow, the world’s largest chemical company, moved to Grangemouth when it acquired the site from Rohm and Haas in 2009 as part of a global $15.4 billion buyout. The deal, which took a year to finalise, looked to have secured the future of the plant in Wholeflats Road and existing jobs.

However, Dow, which employs 46,000 people in 160 countries, stated changing times led to a review of the way it operates.

A spokesperson said: “As a result of a thorough, ongoing portfolio review in a slow-growth world, Dow is targeting an increased divestiture list of nearly $1.5 billion over the next 18 months.

“The company has identified Dow Plastics Additives as one of the businesses to be actively marketed for divestment and the Dow Grangemouth facility is part of this business.”