Showa Denko announced in late September that its subsidiary Showa Denko Carbon Holding (SDCH) was to merge with subsidiary Showa Denko Europe (SDE) as a means to further expand its business operations in Europe. While SDCH will be the surviving company, it is to take the name of the latter SDE in order to clarify its business management function in Europe.
The existing SDCH operates the company’s electrode business subsidiaries as a management company in Europe. Meanwhile, SDE provides business support services such as import/export management, chemical substance management, and marketing function to group subsidiaries in Europe.
Showa Denko became the world’s largest producer of synthetic graphite electrodes following acquisition of the graphite electrode business of SGL Group of Germany in October 2017. The acquisition comprised of six plants (two in the USA and one each in Germany, Spain, Austria and Malaysia) and brought the company’s total electrode capacity up to 250ktpy.
Showa Denko had subsequently planned to invest in its European plants (in Germany, Spain and Austria) but as a result of weak graphite sales it planned to close its 40ktpy German plant in 2020 and to suspend production at its Austrian plant for six months.
Synthetic graphite electrode demand soared in 2019 following shortages though 2017 and 2018, due to environmental inspections and closures in the coal-based needle coke sector, which forms a major part of China’s electrode supply chain. Consumers re-stocked but also purchased heavily amid speculation of further tight supply that never materialised.
The situation reversed in 2020 with consumers drawing down on stocks, having over-purchased in 2019, and reducing their purchases. Meanwhile, the effects of COVID-19 on the steel industry combined to push global electrode production down by an estimated 28% for the full year 2020.
Showa Denko is also increasing its position in the other major market for synthetic graphite, lithium-ion battery anode powders, having acquired major Japanese anode materials producer Hitachi Chemical earlier this year. The new acquisition will change its name to Showa Denko Materials from October. Hitachi Chemical has lost market share in recent years to leading Chinese anode material producers, including Shanshan Technology and Shenzhen BTR New Energy Material.
Roskill’s NEW Natural & Synthetic Graphite: Outlook to 2030, 13th Edition report was published this week and includes analysis of industry trends in supply, demand, trade and prices, as well as providing forecasts to 2030, profiles of the main producers, and an industry cost curve for spherical graphite. Click here to download the brochure and sample pages for the report, or to access further information.