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Vision Shopsters: The Top 10 European Specialty Chemicals Companies: Changing business models, strategies and SWOTs

The specialty chemicals operations of major European players remained relatively resilient during the economic downturn compared to their other business lines. The 2005-09 period witnessed a considerable rise in consolidation activities among European companies. Some players are focused on backward integration of operations whilst others are aiming to offload non-core franchises. Consolidation is in part prompted by fluctuations in raw material prices and rising competitiveness in the global marketplace.
The report profiles major European players in the specialty chemicals segment and elucidates trends associated with these companies, and insights into the opportunities and threats facing them. This report provides detailed profiles of ten leading European specialty chemicals companies, and brief profiles of other major players. The detailed profiles contain descriptions of business, financial performance, growth strategies and SWOT analyses. Analysis is based on:

• Each company’s consolidated and segmental financial performance;
• Each company’s growth strategies and major acquisitions and divestments relating to the specialty chemicals market;
• Key partnerships and alliances formed by these companies;
• Business-related strengths and weaknesses of these companies.

Key features of this report

• Key drivers and resistors to growth of leading European specialty chemicals companies.
• Common industry characteristics in strategies and performance of European specialty chemicals companies.
• Analysis of financial performance and growth strategies of leading specialty chemicals companies during 2005–09.
• Overview of specialty chemicals product portfolios of leading companies.
• SWOT analysis of the leading European specialty chemicals companies.

Scope of this report

• Learn from the strategies of European specialty chemicals companies to target future growth markets effectively, avoid their mistakes, replicate their successes and learn of the threats they face.
• Benchmark your performance against the leading European specialty chemicals companies by understanding their strategies.


• Measure the resilience of specialty chemicals operations of European companies during the economic downturn.
• Compare performances of specialty and non-specialty chemicals operations of European companies in the global soft drink market arising from the change in consumers’ preferences and global recession.
• Save time, money and resources on analyzing the performance of leading specialty chemicals companies using this report.

Key Market Issues

• Raw material price fluctuations: Review of the 2005-09 period indicates that profits of specialty chemicals operations of leading European players are influenced by fluctuations in raw material prices. Rise in prices in early 2008 coupled with lack of backward integration squeezed margins of Ciba leading to its acquisition by BASF. Fall in prices during the economic downturn had considerable effects on operating margins of European players.
• Fall in demand during downturn: Fall in demand considerably suppressed operating income of European companies in 2009. However, prompt restructuring activities enabled several companies to maintain steady levels of operating margin.
• Relative resilience of specialty chemicals operations: Business Insights observes that the impact was less profound when compared to non-specialty chemicals. The contribution of specialty chemicals to the decline in consolidated revenues was relatively modest. Our in house developed Revenue Growth Index clearly differentiates the performance of specialty and non-specialty operations of European players.
• Consolidation: European players are focused on consolidating their position in the global specialty chemicals market through backward integration and shifting attention to core franchises. Ciba merged with BASF, sensing opportunities for backward integration. Lanxess divested its paper chemicals business, which was later acquired by Kemira.

Key findings from this report

• Business Insights forecasts that the global specialty chemicals market will grow at a CAGR of 2% during 2010–14 to reach a total value of approximately 9bn in 2014.
• The 15 leading European companies generated .9bn sales in 2009, accounting for 15.6% of the 8bn global specialty chemicals market.
• BASF was the largest European specialty chemicals company with bn sales in 2009. The acquisition of Ciba in 2008 propelled the company’s topline significantly.
• European specialty chemicals companies were not insulated from the fall in volume sales experienced by the global chemicals industry. The majority of these players were affected by the fall in industrial input costs as was observed in their selling prices.
• Business Insights’ Revenue growth index found that during the downturn, specialty chemicals businesses of European players performed better than their non-specialty operations.

Key questions answered

• What was the market size of the global specialty chemicals industry by value in 2009?
• What will be the market size of the global specialty chemicals industry during 2010-14?
• What are the key trends observed in the European specialty chemicals companies and strategic responses that are taking shape?
• Who are the major European players in the global specialty chemicals market?
• What are the growth strategies of the leading 10 companies?

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