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Innovation complex opened by Dow

DOW Chemical Co, a major United States chemical maker, announced the launch of its business and innovation complex for Asia Pacific in Shanghai yesterday.

Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said the facility, the Shanghai Dow Center, is a demonstration of its continued commitment to becoming a more market-focused and customer-oriented company.

Global chemical makers have been hurt by the recession as demand from the auto, construction and electronics sectors has slumped, forcing companies to close plants and cut jobs.

Dow, which is selling a dozen units to help pay off debt from its takeover of Rohm & Haas Co in April, expects more innovation could support growth in its Asian markets.

Over 500 engineers and scientists will work in more than 80 labs at the Dow Center, in Zhangjiang High-tech Park. In total, the center can accommodate 1,800 employees and serves as Dow's regional headquarters.

Liveris said Dow is committed to a multibillion-dollar coal-to-chemicals complex it plans to open in Shaanxi Province with China's Shenhua Group, despite the fact a slump in oil prices had reduced the attraction of the sector.

A feasibility study on the project will soon be finished and submitted to the central government, said Zhu Zuoli, director of the Shaanxi Development and Reform Commission.

"With increasing demand, and supply being more expensive, it's very logical to assume (oil) prices will continue to rise," Liveris said, adding the project will be built for a century-long operation, and shouldn't be affected by short-term swings in oil prices.

Sales in China, Dow's third-largest market, totaled US$3.3 billion in 2008. Global sales were US$58 billion. Rohm & Haas had a revenue of US$10 billion last year.


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