Kuraray Co., Ltd. (Kuraray) announced today that it has signed an agreement to purchase the assets of the Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) and Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB) businesses and related activities (the Business) of Clariant GmbH, a subsidiary of Clariant AG (Clariant). Located at the Industriepark Hoechst near Frankfurt, Germany, the Business is the European market leader in production and marketing of PVA and PVB. The parties have agreed not to disclose the transaction terms. The transaction is subject to approval by the appropriate authorities.

"This major acquisition is consistent with our strategic plan to expand Kuraray's core business of Vinyl Acetate Chemical chains centering on PVA, EVOH and their related products. It is our sincere hope to build upon the success of the Business, to leverage its years of experience and to provide a bright future for its managers and employees. Kuraray has a strong and long-term commitment to the industry, which is evidenced by our consistent track record of investing in this very core business. This transaction, which significantly expands our presence in the European market, demonstrates our commitment to provide a solid platform for further growth of Kuraray's Vinyl Acetate Chemicals products throughout the world," says Mr. Yasuaki Wakui, President of Kuraray Co., Ltd.

Kuraray is a leading manufacturer of PVA, EVOH and the other related products in the world. The transaction will enhance Kuraray's position as a leading PVA producer in the world. Kuraray has two PVA plants in Japan and a PVA plant in Singapore through a joint venture. The Business will be the fourth operation unit, and a critically important one for Kuraray to implement its global growth strategy. It will also add a new horizon to the Business with exposure to a new downstream business, PVB.

Synergism in the PVA business is another attractive aspect of the transaction. Kuraray will realize expanded and improved R&D activities through cooperation between the European unit and its Japanese operations, which should contribute in improving efficiency. Furthermore, Kuraray will strengthen its competitive power in existing grades of PVA where the European unit has achieved high productivity. Also, Kuraray can enhance the competitiveness of the Business with the addition of its featured products of modified PVA grades developed in Japan.

The Business will be operated as an independent company under Kuraray Europe GmbH, Kuraray's European headquarters, while all the managers and employees of the Business are planned to be transferred to the new company.

Contact Address of Kuraray

Europe : Kuraray Europe GmbH

Schiess Strasse 68, 40549 Duesseldorf, Germany
Tel: (49) 211 538880 Fax: (49) 211 5388848

Japan : Kuraray Co., Ltd.

Office of Corporate Communications

3-1-6, Nihonnbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8254, Japan
Tel: (81) 3 3277 3100
Fax: (81) 3 3277 3384
1-12-39, Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8611, Japan
Tel: (81) 6 6348 2259
Fax: (81) 6 6348 2165

Brief Portrait

Kuraray Co., Ltd.

Established: June 1926
Annual Sales Yen 313.7 billion with Operating Income Yen 19.9 billion in 2000

Major business lines :
PVA resin, EVOH resin and their related products, Isoprene Chemicals, Methacrylic Resins,
Man-made leather, Polyester fiber, PVA fiber, Non Woven fabrics, Medical Products

PVA annual production capacity :
124,000 MT in Japan
20,000 MT in Singapore

Clariant AG

Please refer to Clariant's website :