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03-18-2016

Volatile European Market Forces PE Film Extruders to Restructure

RKW SE continues to be the largest polyethylene film extruding company in Europe, and is the only player consuming more than 300,000 t of polyethylene in 2015 according to the latest edition of AMI's report "Corporate performance and ownership among polyethylene film extruders - A review of Europe's 50 largest players".

Leading producers of PE films in Europe in 2015 (© Applied Market Information)

The polyethylene film industry is a market which is growing both in terms of raw material consumption and also square meters of film extruded. However, the sector faces a number of challenges with raw material supply and pricing continuing to be volatile while customers drive pressure on margins. Europe is faced by high energy costs, a significant level of compliance in both environmental, manufacturing and employment legislation, and the continued threat of film imports from competitively advantaged regions of the world.

None the less, during 2015 the usage of prime polyethylene materials for the production of film amounted to just over 7.3 million tonnes representing just under 20% of the total European polymer market. The sector is projected to register steady growth of 1-2% a year over the next 5 years. A result of such modest growth means that the changes in AMI's report largely result from corporate restructuring and acquisitions by the major players. In recent years RKW (buying Hyplast N.V, Biofol Film GmbH), PoliFilm (WMS Folien GmbH) and Mondi (Nordenia International AG) have completed significant acquisitions changing the dynamics and structure of the industry.

Acquisition and investment has seen PoliFilm of Germany emerge as the second largest player in volume terms. In addition to its recent acquisition of WMS Folien, it also acquired a manufacturing plant from Mondi in 2015 as well as carrying out major investments at its Weißandt-Gölzau plant installing a new 7-layer blown film line together with an expansion of the 5-layer cast system on five extruders and opening a new technical centre in October 2015.

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