Grace purchases hydroprocessing business

W. R.

Venture to target removal of sulfur from gasoline

February 02, 2000|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Chemical-maker W. R. Grace & Co. said yesterday that it has purchased a Chicago hydroprocessing enterprise that will put the Columbia-based company in the business of aiding in the removal of sulfur from gasoline.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency said it will require gasoline to have a significantly smaller amount of sulfur by 2005.

"It expands our product offering in hydroprocessing and positions us to compete in the light-oil area, including removing sulfur from gasoline, and strategically that is why it's valuable," Paul J. Norris, Grace's chairman, president and chief executive officer said yesterday. "It adds sales of just under $30 million annually and is accretive to our bottom line right away."

Grace would not disclose the price it paid for Crosfield Group's hydroprocessing catalyst business, a subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries PLC in the United Kingdom. The business will be folded into Grace's Davison catalyst business in Columbia.

No layoffs are expected in Chicago, although Norris said the company is always reviewing its staffing levels.

In December, the EPA said that by 2005 gasoline must have sulfur levels of no more than 30 parts per million, down from the current maximum of nearly 300.

Grace reported this week better-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter and year.

The company earned $48.2 million, or 66 cents a share, on sales of $381.3 million. In the fourth quarter of 1998, Grace reported a net loss of $210 million, or $2.88 per share, on sales of $372.4 million.

For all of 1999, Grace made $136 million, or 1.76 cents a share, on sales of $1.47 billion. Grace lost $183.6 million, or $2 a share, in 1998 and had sales of $1.46 billion.

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