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Saudi petrochem major weighs local unit

Bangalore, Nov. 29: Sabic of Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest petrochemical firm, is planning a manufacturing unit in the country.

The company today inaugurated a $100-million research and development (R&D) centre for polymer in Bangalore.

“We are evaluating different options. Hopefully you would see a full manufacturing base in India,” Sabic vice-chairman and chief executive officer Mohamed H. al-Mady said without giving any time frame to set up the unit.

The $50-billion diversified petrochemicals major supplies plastics to customers, which include Apple, Harley Davidson and Range Rover.

It also manufactures fibre to make clothes that are flame-retardant and bullet-proof glass. It has interests in chemicals and intermediates, industrial polymers, fertilisers and metals.

Saudi Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thenayana al-Saud unveiled the $100-million technology centre spread over 46 acres.

As part of Sabic’s 17 global R&D centres, the Bangalore facility will conduct research in various fields for its global customers, with a team of 300 scientists and engineers.

“We are proud to have our facility in Bangalore, which is a world-renowned centre for technology in India,” Saud bin Abdullah said.

“The centre would carry out cutting-edge research in new platforms for next-generation materials across the industry sectors spanning construction, clean energy, electronics, medical devices and transportation,” al-Mady said.

Sabic plans to double the headcount in Bangalore to 600 researchers over the next 12-18 months, making the centre the largest in the world.

“We are gathering some of the best and brightest talent in India to shape the future of our R&D efforts and reaffirm our commitment to be the preferred technology partner for our Asian customers,” Sabic vice-president Ernesto Occhiello said.

The company plans to invest $500 million over the next five years in India and China where it is setting up a similar centre in Shanghai.

“Our staff will also grow as we plan to triple the R&D headcount in Asia and create more jobs for supporting functions by 2025,” Occhiello said.

Union minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Srikant Kumar Jena said Sabic’s investment in Bangalore had strengthened the relationship between the two countries.

“We look forward to more such partnerships from other companies in the Saudi kingdom,” he said.

Jena also proposed a mega plastic park in a joint collaboration with the Saudi company.

“We would request Sabic to participate in the development of the petrochemicals industry and polymer research in India,” he said.

In the financial year 2012, Sabic had a sales turnover of $50.4 billion and a net profit of $6.5 billion.

The Saudi government holds a 70 per cent stake in the Riyadh-based company, while 30 per cent are with private investors in Saudi Arabia and the other countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council.

 
 
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