Eni rebrands Italy chemicals unit as Versalis, plans €1.6bn of investments

Eni has rebranded its Italy-based chemicals division as Versalis while setting forth a new €1.6bn investment plan through 2015, the company said in a news release.

The prior name was Polimeri Europa.

“It represents a tangible sign of the new strategy for Eni’s chemicals division and a renewal of the historical importance of the business within Eni,” said Daniele Ferrari, CEO of Versalis.

“The name Versalis is the best example of this new strategy, as it brings to mind the concept of universality, widespread presence, stability, safety and security.

“Versalis sets out to operate as one of the most advanced chemicals and plastic materials businesses, through an ongoing commitment to research and innovation in products, processes and technology.”

The European chemical sector operates in a complex environment which has undergone critical challenges in recent years due to the entry of new competitors, a great number of production plants moving to Asia, and the volatility of feedstock and energy prices, the company explained.

In the four-year period from 2012 to 2015, investment will be equal to €1.6bn - 60% more than in the previous plan. It will mainly be aimed at the re-launch of critical Italian sites to deliver income, growth in the elastomers business, and entry into new business areas, Eni said.

A significant portion of this investment, over €350m, will be dedicated to the conversion of the chemical plant at Priolo (SR). The company says special attention will be paid to the cracking and polyethylene plants, and the construction of new plants to ensure the site's profitability and increase employment levels.

The new plan also highlights the development of the elastomers business, a sector in which Versalis is a leader in Europe. Over €500m of investment is envisaged for that business, the company said.

The broad objective is to double the company's turnover, increasing the current 15% margin to 30% in the next five years, by strengthening current production lines and developing existing capacity via the construction of new plants at the sites of Ravenna, Ferrara, and Grangemouth in the UK.

A new butadiene line at Dunkerque will be fundamental to the supply of raw materials to the elastomer production sites, particularly in the UK, the company said.

Meanwhile, another €500mn will be used to construct a new industrial complex in Porto Torres, Italy, to produce bio-monomers and bio-polymers in partnership with Novamont.

At that complex, Versalis will build seven production plants in three phases over the next five years. A new research center opened there in February 2012.

One overarching, fundamental characteristic of the chemicals segment is a constant commitment to expansion in emerging markets, Eni said.

An important driver will be the use of proprietary technology (licensing and patents) for the development of joint venture agreements with international players, in Asian markets in particular.

As the first step, Versalis recently entered China with Eni Chemicals Shanghai, directly distributing products in the Chinese market, and with Versalis Pacific, which operates in all Asian markets.

Implementation of the renewal plan will provide an expected improvement in EBIT of over €400m in 2013, the company said.

For more details on the program, visit Eni’s Versalis website by clicking here.

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