Huntsman Corporation (NYSE:HUN), a global chemical producer with a market capitalization of about $4.35 billion, started talks Thursday with European labor unions about downsizing their operations on the continent and in the UK.
Overall, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company, which has about 2,500 workers worldwide, has been posting strong results recently, but it’s been tough going for its Advanced Materials division, which makes coatings, adhesives, composites and electronics materials.
To remedy that, Huntsman has launched an “ongoing strategic plan designed to improve the company’s manufacturing efficiencies, enhance commercial excellence and ensure its long-term global competitiveness,” the company said in a news release, adding that it anticipates “benefits to the business in the range of $70 million.”
While the main thrust of the plan will be boosting its manufacturing efficiency, it will also address the division’s fixed costs, said Wynne Morris, head of communications in the division's Basel, Switzerland, office.
“The weak economic conditions we’re operating in around the world plus the volatility of the cost of raw materials is driving the company to take some tough but necessary actions,” he said. “Unfortunately, the plan will include some reduction in head-count.”
Morris declined to speculate on how many of the division’s European workers will lose their jobs. The talks with their union representatives will take several weeks, and the division’s overall strategic plan will take about 18 months to fully implement, he said.
The Advance Materials Division operates manufacturing facilities in Britain, Spain, Germany and two in the U.S. About 70 percent of the corporation’s sales are outside the U.S.