Clariant sees biofuels boost from VW diesel affair

Zurich | Reuters –– Swiss specialty chemicals group Clariant expects biofuels to get a boost from the scandal surrounding Volkswagen’s manipulation of diesel motor emissions tests, CEO Hariolf Kottmann told a German newspaper.

Clariant is spending 30 million euros (C$44 million) a year to expand capacity in Munich to make bioethanol from wheat straw, and sales and earnings there could swell over the next two to four years, the Euro am Sonntag quoted him as saying.

“And if in a few years we account for the global impact of the VW exhaust affair on diesel and diesel vehicles, we will find that this issue has helped biofuels to reach a whole other level,” he added.

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In an advance summary of a report to be published on Sunday, the paper quoted Kottmann as saying he was confident the group would improve its pretax profit margin this year despite lower sales due to the strong Swiss franc.

A rapid sale of its hived-off plastics and coatings division is not on the cards. “We would shrink considerably and become a takeover target,” he said.

Clariant unveiled plans in July to shift the 2.6 billion Swiss franc (C$3.5 billion) business — which produces goods including plastic colourings, additives and pigments — into a separate, wholly-owned subsidiary.

Reporting for Reuters by Michael Shields.

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