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New Editor's Blog

Posted 11/01/2010 by NeilE

Welcome to C&I’s new Editor’s Blog – the first of a regular weekly posting of thoughts and comments on current topics relevant or related to chemistry and the chemical industry.

And also as this is the first posting of a new decade it is perhaps time to ring out the old and ring in the new – or is it?

And names are a particular case in point, particularly in the chemical industry. 2009 saw the final departure of ICI, which had already been dismembered and changed into a speciality chemical company from its petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals heyday. But ICI was not alone amongst the big names that have disappeared over the last few decades.

After all, looking back a couple of decades who remembers Cain and Sterling Chemicals some of the first of the privately owned chemical majors to be formed during the late 1980s by entrepreneur Gordon Cain? Cain acquired the poorly performing business units of other long established chemical concerns and by merging them turned them around into profitable concerns. Despite their disappearances, in some cases through purchase by the very same types of chemical majors that had sold the individual businesses in the first place, these companies set a trend that was followed by Jon Huntsman and more recently John Radcliffe who founded Ineos, now one of the largest chemical concerns in the world.

Those blessed with an elephantine memory will remember the name Hoechst as one of the German Big 3 chemical majors formed on the demise of IG Farben. Hoechst itself was split into various parts and merged with parts of other chemical and healthcare concerns. Hoechst’s pharma business joined those of French firm Roussel Uclaf and Marion Merrell Dow to become Hoechst Marion Roussel in 1999. The Hoechst name disappeared when the latter company merged with another famous French concern Rhône-Poulenc, another big name that has disappeared, to form Aventis in 1999. So the Hoechst name disappeared. Or did it?

Recently, the Hoechst name has resurfaced, this time in India as the brand name of a range of generic medicines produced by sanofi-aventis, formed in 2004 when Sanofi-Synthelabo merged with Aventis and now said to be the world’s fourth largest pharma major in terms of sales. The new Indian Hoechst business unit is expected to launch 15 products in key treatment areas including anti-infectives, couch, cold and allergy, gastrointestinal and pain.

So will there be any other revivals in 2010? Or will some other well-known names disappear as a result of the fall-out from the economic downturn?

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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  • Anonymous said:
    29/04/2013 04:53

    Any one hearing a large chem dist. Is losing customers due to a failed TMS deployment?