Kumho Petrochemical Co.`s Ulsan NB latex plant.
South Korea’s Kumho Petrochemical Co. said Wednesday that it has started adding acrylonitrile-butadiene latex (NB latex) lines at its Ulsan plant to beef up its synthetic rubber production capacity to 550,000 tons a year on hopes to cement its global leadership position. It did not disclose the expansion cost.
NB latex is widely used in making surgical gloves. Lately, it has also been used in making gloves for industrial uses and cooking after upgrades, opening new markets for the synthetic rubber manufacturer. In 2016, Kumho Petrochemical doubled its annual NB latex production capacity to 400,000 tons to meet the growing demand and recently developed new product ‘KNL 834’ for tasks requiring more precision.
The company aims to complete adding the new NB latex lines by March next year to churn out 550,000 tons of the synthetic rubber yearly, which would help solidify its position as world’s No. 1 NB latex maker, said a Kumho Petrochemical official.
The global latex glove market is anticipated to grow 10 percent annually, said the company official. The market has been most active in Southeast Asia that the company opened a sales office in Malaysia in 2016.
Kumho Petrochemical registered an operating profit of 165.8 billion won ($145 million) on sales of 1.3 trillion won for the first three months this year. Its first-quarter operating profit made a 152-percent jump compared to a year ago period. It was the first time in six years for the quarterly figure to top 100 billion won. Strong earnings were seen across the board with its mainstay synthetic rubber business delivering 33.2 billion won, synthetic resins 24 billion won, phenols 66.6 billion won, and energy 40.4 billion won.
Shares of Kumho Petrochemical closed Wednesday at 104,500 won, unchanged from the previous session.
By Kang Doo-soon and Cho Jeehyun
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