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Fine chemicals and pharma custom manufacturing players attending the CPhI pharma intermediates exhibition, held last month in Madrid, say they are more optimistic than in previous years about business prospects. The industry is beginning to look up, despite fewer new drug approvals by the FDA, they say. "We have reached the bottom and see a steady market now with growth in the coming years," says Norbert Dieterich, head of pharmaceutical fine chemicals at Clariant. "Business is picking up and orders are coming in," says Kevin R. Lesnewski, marketing director at DSM Pharmaceutical Products. Average capacity utilization has improved from 70% in 2004, to 75% this year on the back of new project bookings and downsizing by fine chemical players, sources say.
Degussa is restructuring its fine chemicals business and has a "clear strategy" on how to improve the operation's profitability, says Degussa CEO Utz-Hellmuth Felcht. The company recently included an 836-million [euro] impairment charge in its accounts related to fine chemicals, the second such charge since Degussa's 2001 acquisition of Laporte. Degussa has not written off Laporte completely, however. "There is still a piece of goodwill valued at about 250 million [euro]," the company says. Degussa will nevertheless remain in fine chemicals, Felcht says. It plans to invest in the business, reduce its complexity, and increase efficiency, he says.
Isochem is another player that has undergone a major refocusing. The moves followed a 2001 explosion at Total's Toulouse, France fertilizers plant, resulting in a …