PPG Turns Into Axiall

NATRIUM – The local PPG Industries plant soon will operate under a new name, Axiall Corp.

Nothing will change for the Natrium plant’s 500 workers other than the name, as PPG’s commodity chemical business is being merged with Atlanta-based Georgia Gulf.

The $2.1 billion merger should be complete by the end of this month. The newly formed company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol AXLL.

“There really should not be any changes here except the name,” Natrium Plant Manager Jim Rock said.

“Things are going pretty well.”

The plant, located south of Moundsville along W.Va. 2, manufactures chemicals, primarily chlorine, caustic soda, muriatic acid and calcium hypochlorite.

These chemicals have a wide variety of end-uses including water purification, paper and plastics production and as key building blocks for pharmaceuticals.

“The new name is the result of more than five months of effort and creativity by a group of employees from both Georgia Gulf and PPG,” said Paul Carrico, president and chief executive officer of the new Axiall Corp. “The new and distinctive brand represents a clear break from the legacy names of the two businesses, and gives us the flexibility to enter new markets, make future acquisitions, and diversify our portfolio without the need to rebrand our organization.”

Following the merger, the combined company is expected to have annual revenues of about $5 billion and be the third-largest chlor-alkali producer and second-largest vinyl chloride monomer producer in North America.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement as this transaction is another major step in our strategic transformation into a more focused coatings and specialty products company,” added PPG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles E. Bunch.

The plant is also located in the center of the burgeoning Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas boom. As part of this, PPG in 2011 signed a $50 million drilling lease with Gastar Exploration that allows Gastar to drill 30 wells on 3,300 acres of PPG land near the Natrium site.

“Gastar and Mike have been great to work with,” Rock said in reference to Gastar Vice President-Northeast Michael McCown.

To facilitate its operations, Gastar constructed a new concrete road leading from W.Va. 2 near the PPG plant to the well sites at the top of the hill. About halfway up the hill, Rock said PPG is drilling a new well to retrieve brine water from the earth that the company uses as its “raw material” for chemical production.

“That seems to be a very positive sign for the future of this plant,” Rock said of the facility that has operated since July 17, 1943.

In a related matter, PPG recently reported record sales of $3.6 billion for the last three months of 2012, a $100 million increase in sales from the same period in 2011. PPG’s total sales for 2012 were $15.2 billion, an increase of 2 percent versus 2011 sales of $14.9 billion.

“In summary, 2012 was an excellent year for PPG and its shareholders,” Bunch added.