DuPont consolidating plastics operations into a single business unit


DuPont Co. is consolidating two of its plastics-related units into a single business.

As of Jan. 1, DuPont’s Performance Polymers unit will merge with Packaging & Industrial Polymers. Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont also is merging its Protection and Building Innovations units.

“By bringing these business units together under common management structures, we are creating business of more significant scale to better serve our customers,” interim Chairman and CEO Edward Breen said in a Nov. 2 news release.

DuPont Performance Polymers includes nylon, acetal and polybutylene terephthalate resins, as well as thermoplastic elastomers and biopolymers. Packaging & Industrial Polymers includes polymer modifers and additives and specialty resins used in adhesives, barriers, sealants and peelable lidding; as well as the DuPont Teijin Films business.

DuPont Teijin ranks as North America’s fifth-largest film and sheet business, according to a recent Plastics News ranking, with estimated sales of almost $1.4 billion in 2014.

The businesses had been the two parts of DuPont’s Performance Materials unit. That entire unit now will be led by Patrick Lindner, who has run the Performance Polymers unit since 2014 and who has been with DuPont since 1996.

Packaging & Industrial Polymers head William Harvey — a 38-year company veteran who has led that unit since 2009 — will remain in that role through the end of the year. A company spokesman said no information was available as to Harvey’s position beyond that point.

The spokesman added that the merger of the two units will causes some roles to be eliminated, but the number of affected jobs has not been determined.

DuPont — one of the world’s largest plastics and chemicals makers — continues to deal with the fallout of a lengthy proxy war with activist investor Trian Fund Management LP and its founder Nelson Peltz. DuPont won that fight in May — retaining control of its board — but it still played a role in the Oct. 16 resignation of CEO Ellen Kullman.

During that proxy fight, DuPont named Breen and James Gallogly to the board. Breen previously led Tyco International out of bankruptcy. Gallogly had been CEO of polyolefins leader LyondellBasell Industries.

DuPont has struggled with lower growth and reduced profitability in recent years. When it announced Kullman’s resignation, the firm also lowered earnings expectations for 2015 to $2.75 per share, down from prior guidance of $3.10. It blamed the strengthening of the U.S. dollar vs. currencies in emerging markets, particularly the Brazilian real.

Earlier this year, DuPont attempted to improve its results by spinning off its struggling titanium dioxide unit — as well as Teflon-brand fluoropolymers — into a separate public company, Chemours.

In the first nine months of 2015, DuPont’s sales fell 12 percent to $19.8 billion, with operating profit down 13 percent to $3.7 billion. Performance Materials sales fell 13 percent to just over $4 billion, with operating profit down 1 percent to $935 million.
Based on sales, Performance Materials ranked second among DuPont’s six operating units in the nine-month period.