Do you think that the low prices of raw materials in the United States make the country the Promised Land for the chemical industry? What are the countries that chemical companies should look at when planning their investment projects?
Lanxess has been keeping a close watch on the generation of energy and extraction of raw materials by fracking and on the debate in the various countries. For us, constructive and rational dialog on the opportunities and risks is essential.
Therefore, in our view it does make sense to analyze also in Europe the possibility of using shale gas. If the results of these investigations show that safe and environmentally friendly recovery of shale gas is possible in Europe, we would also support the extraction of these gas reserves by fracking, if it makes economically sense. We see the recovery of homegrown shale gas as a chance to safeguard the industry's raw material and energy supply.
For an energy-dependent sector such as the chemical industry, it is extremely important to remain globally competitive and thus safeguard jobs over the long term. Among other factors it is from our perspective a locational advantage if the local energy supply is clean and safe and at the same time provided at competitive conditions.
Given the present geopolitical conditions, is Lanxess going to expand its presence in Russia?
Since 2009, Lanxess has steered its business in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) through its own subsidiary, OOO Lanxess, based in Moscow. Some 30 employees here market Lanxess's product portfolio. The target markets include the automotive and tire industries and the construction sector. In Lipetsk, our subsidiary Rhein Chemie manufactures polymer-bound rubber additives, mainly for the automotive and tire industries. A production facility for bladders used in tire production is to be added in 2016. We currently employ 12 people in Lipetsk. We posted sales of about EUR 76 million in Russia in 2013.
Given the current conflict we are convinced that the dialogue with Russia should be maintained at all levels. Our business with Russia is not directly affected by the sanctions that have been imposed so far. However, we are keeping a close eye on the situation and how the conflict is developing.
What role do Poland and other CEE play in the company's development plans?
Within Central and Eastern Europe, Poland is the most important market for us. In Poland Lanxess achieved sales of EUR 96 million in 2013. The main customer areas were tire and automotive. In the entire region of Central Eastern Europe we had sales of more than EUR 300 million in 2013. For the coming years we expect growth rates in CEE above those in Western European markets.