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Case: Growing globally

Cobalt & Specialty Materials has made further acquisitions to strengthen its global business and complement its organic growth investments.

A leading player in the global markets of cobalt and nickel compounds and related products, Cobalt & Specialty Materials (CSM) aims to consolidate and grow this position through two strategic goals.

Occupy the full value chain

This refers to five steps in the journey from raw materials to final sales. It starts with ensuring a supply of raw materials. The second step is the refining and recycling of cobalt, nickel and other metals, followed by the production of end products, such as cobalt powders, oxides and nickel sulphate. Fourth is the commercialisation of these end products to industrial customers in key markets. The final step is the distribution of an enlarged product portfolio. This creates added value through enhanced product availability, third-party products and tailor-made customer services.

Strategic worldwide growth

At the end of 2013, Cobalt & Specialty Materials acquired Palm Commodities, located near Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The plant transforms mainly nickel, cobalt and copper into a wide range of plating products for the surface finishing industry. It also manufactures compounds of rare earth metals, including lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium and neodymium. The deal included a large sales and distribution network in North America that will expand CSM’s capabilities in that market.

In 2014 the business unit completed three further acquisitions to increase its reach across the value chain. The acquisition of CP Chemicals, located in Wickliffe, Ohio, USA will further strengthen the business unit’s global presence. Renamed Umicore Specialty Materials Recycling (USMR), these activities recycle and refine scrap from super alloys which contain cobalt, nickel, tantalum and rhenium.

CSM then acquired the production equipment and customer list of the Spanish company Faci Metalest. Its production equipment for producing liquid metal carboxylates is being integrated into Umicore’s operations in Bruges, which have a long history in this product area. The acquisition forms the basis for further expansion.

At the end of 2014 CSM completed the acquisition of the remaining shares in Italian company Todini and Co, a European leader in the distribution of industrial chemical products. This will enable the business unit to further expand its distribution activities and strengthen its supply chain from raw materials to end customers.