Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Artenius Jobs Return as Plant Is Rescued

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Artenius Jobs Return as Plant Is Rescued

Article excerpt


ARTENIUS UK, the chemical company that went down with the loss of more than 250 Teesside jobs in July, was bought out of administration this morning. The rescue by Korean giant Lotte's KP Chemicals division will see more than half the workforce restored as both PTA and PET production is brought back on line over the next two months.

Mark Kenrick, the former business director who stayed on to beat out a deal with administrators Deloitte, said last night he was "relieved but knackered".

He said: "I feel extremely pleased that we have the opportunity to start these assets up again and create a new business that will sustain up to 180 families. It's good news that Wilton needs."

The only UK producer of PTA - the starting point for the ubiquitous PET food packaging material, which is manufactured at just one other plant in Britain - Artenius' fate was sealed in 2009 when Spanish parent La Seda de Barcelona hit financial problems. Overwhelmed by debt, it starved the Wilton operation of finance.

The final straw came when supplier Sabic put it into court for non-payment of bills. Several creditors by that point were owed millions. Today both Sabic and downstream customers were thanked by Mr Soo Young Huh, CEO and president of KP, for their support in getting the plant back into production.

Mr Kenrick said the plant's credibility was still "superb in the market place" and, as most of the 150,000t of PET previously supplied had been replaced by imports, former customers were keen to place orders. The first should leave the site in early April.

Mr Kenrick said rebooting the plant in time for the peak trading period would be a challenge.

"The only way to make money is running at full capacity. That will clearly be difficult in the first few months, but the market has not shrunk significantly," he said.

Around 120 of the original staff will be personally invited to join the new company, which is to be known as Lotte Chemicals UK (LCUK).

Stan Higgins, chief executive of the North East Process Industry Cluster said it was "good news for Teesside". …

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