No cuts planned here, Lanxess' regional CEO says

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A day after German chemicals maker Lanxess disclosed it is considering job cuts and plant closings to reduce costs, the company's top executive in North America said no layoffs are planned in the United States and Canada.

Flemming Bjoernslev, president and CEO of Lanxess Corp., based in Findlay, commented on the North America operations after the parent company Wednesday reported global net income fell 87 percent in the first quarter while sales dropped 12 percent. Lanxess blamed the decline on a weak economy, especially in Europe, and price cuts designed to retain customers.

In a conference call after the earnings release, Axel Heitmann, CEO of the parent company, said Lanxess is determining how to restructure its performance chemicals unit that makes rubber products and other specialty items supplied to the automobile industry.

The auto industry, which accounts for 40 percent of Lanxess sales, is experiencing record low sales in Europe as the European economy in general is coping with a debt crisis.

No jobs will be lost in Germany, Mr. Heitmann said.

The company already took steps to control costs by closing some plants temporarily, including a facility in Orange, Texas, that makes a rubber product used in wiper blades and door sealants. It was closed for about one month prior to reopening in April, Mr. Bjoernslev said.

The North American region includes 1,500 employees at 14 sites. In the Pittsburgh region, Lanxess has about 350 workers at the Findlay headquarters and at facilities in Neville Island and Burgettstown, Washington County.

North American sales accounted for about 15 percent of Lanxess' first-quarter global revenues, which totaled 2.1 billion euros ($2.7 billion).

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Joyce Gannon: or 412-263-1580.


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