The last two years have certainly been a period of uncertainty for most industries. 2009 started off grimly for the paint and coatings market but it slowly started to pick up pace towards the end of the year. Moving into 2010, many industry players were cautious but nevertheless hopeful that the year would bring about the recovery of the industry back to more acceptable levels.
As we begin 2011, the experts Coatings World talked to for this issue in the pigments and additives markets are cautiously optimistic that gains will be made towards pre-recession levels. This will be a challenge as both pigment and additive manufacturers are plagued with supply and pricing issues, which will be with us for the foreseeable future, especially as oil prices continue to climb.
Despite these challenges, firms are not holding back with launching innovative technologies. Paint makers are endlessly looking to reduce costs and VOCs while increasing production speed to maximize profit. It’s usually the raw material suppliers tasked with developing novel approaches to produce new coatings technologies. On page 30 of this issue you find some of the latest innovations to hit the market for interior architectural coatings.
You might have noticed by now that we’ve received a bit of a makeover from the Art Department over here. The team did a great job designing a new, cleaner and fresher look for Coatings World. I think it looks great and hope you do too.
I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome aboard Dan G. Watson as our new China correspondent (page18). Dan is the managing director of Blairgowrie Associates LLC and a senior partner with the Alliance Management Group. Previously he was worldwide director of new platform development with Eastman Kodak and Eastman Chemical Company and the Asia/Pacific regional director for Rohm and Haas Company with more than 20 years experience in the China region.
Dan has covered China for us before and has done such a good job that we figured we needed to bring him aboard as a regular columnist. So if you really want to keep your hand on the pulse of the China beat, make sure you tune in every month for Dan’s insights into what is the most important region in terms of its impact on our industry.
At the top of the news has been the hostile takeover Freeworld Coatings faces at the hands of Kansai Paint. We’ve been reporting since last summer that it looked like South Africa-based Freeworld would be on the chopping block this year, but as we go to press, it looks like the firm is still holding on.
Kansai Paint offered to buy all the shares it does not already own in Freeworld Coatings in a $262 million deal to give it a big presence in South Africa and a gateway to the continent. Osaka, Japan-based Kansai said it would offer 12 rand per share for the 72.4 percent stake in Freeworld it does not already own. Back in October Kansai had become the top shareholder in Freeworld and was in talks to raise that to at least a majority stake.
Freeworld has said ownership by Kansai would raise competition-related concerns and discussions between the legal teams of these two companies have so far failed to resolve these differences. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months, and whether Kansai will be able to get a firm grip on the developing African continent.