Celanese May Halt Production At 2 Plants

Chemical maker said Wednesday it is considering halting the production of key products at plants in France and Mexico in anticipation of lower customer demand.

DALLAS (AP) -- Chemical maker Celanese Corp. said Wednesday it may halt the production of key products at two plants in anticipation of lower customer demand amid the global economic downturn.

Celanese will begin assessing the potential closure of its Pardies, France, manufacturing facility, which is capable of producing 450,000 tons of acetic acid and 150,000 tons of vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) annually. Both products are used to make plastics and other items.

In addition, the company is considering closing the VAM production unit at its Cangrejera, Mexico, facility, which has an annual production capacity of 115,000 tons.

The Pardies, France facility currently employs 350 workers and the VAM production unit of the Cangrejera, Mexico plant has 50 employees. Until the assessment is completed, the company is unable to give a definitive answer as to how these employees will be affected by the closures, said Travis Jacobsen, a company spokesperson, in a phone interview.

Regarding the Cangrejera VAM production unit, Jacobsen said the timing of the potential closure would be "as soon as practical," pending the evaluation. He hasn't yet reached a decision on its Pardies facility, but plans to present a business case to French authorities within 6 weeks if not sooner.

Shares of Celanese fell 5 cents to $11.17 in morning trading.

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