x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Adbic close to disclosing aluminium project

Abu Dhabi's Polymers Park, which was to host US$4.4 billion of investment in the factories that turn polymers into plastic parts, has after nearly three years lured in just one investor: an artificial grass maker.

Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corporation plans to announce a major aluminium project after its bid to establish a large-scale plastics manufacturing cluster in Musaffah faltered.

The company expects to disclose details of the joint venture in the next two weeks.

Three years ago the government-backed company set out to develop an industrial park intended to become a major cluster of plastic-converting companies. But only one tenant, a maker of artificial grass, has been signed.

"Because of the economic crisis, the attraction of those companies does need more work," said Jamal al Dhaheri, the chief executive of Adbic. "At the moment we're revisiting the whole plan and looking at exactly what's been achieved, what needs to be achieved, what is the progress … Hopefully we'll have a better understanding shortly."

The planners of Polymers Park in the industrial hub of Musaffah had envisioned a sprawling complex that would draw US$4.4 billion (Dh16.16bn) of investment from the companies that mould raw plastic pellets into products including car fenders and television parts.

The one tenant Adbic has signed will eventually make 15,000 tonnes of artificial grass yarn a year - representing just a fraction of the 1 million tonnes of plastics production that Adbic had hoped to achieve by next year.

Polymers Park, launched in June 2008, was to be a cornerstone of the emirate's plan to diversify away from an oil-driven economy.

Rather than exporting raw hydrocarbons or the petrochemicals made with them, Abu Dhabi hoped to turn such chemicals into plastic parts.

But the emirate has not yet developed a large-scale manufacturing industry, unlike China, where plastics converters have clustered in recent years.

"The whole feasibility of our project is very complex," said Mr al Dhaheri on the sidelines of a conference yesterday. "It's not that simple, especially that you are away from the market … Because of what's happening with the economics, sometimes it does defer the investment for some time."

In 2009, Adbic said it could invest up to $100 million to attract tenants through joint-venture agreements. The artificial-grass facility is the result of a $20m venture between Adbic, which backs a quarter of the investment, and Low & Bonar, a UK materials manufacturer.

"They are really expanding their capacity, and we're having a number of talks with other companies that have an interest," said Mr al Dhaheri.