Kemira Oyj (KRA1V), Europe’s largest supplier of water-treatment additives, appointed Tarjei Johansen from Schlumberger Ltd. to lead its oil and mining unit as the Finnish company seeks to boost work on U.S. shale projects.
The U.S. oil and gas industry is helping offset a weakened mining sector, which is depressed by lower prices with no sign of a recovery in sight, according to Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Buechele. Kemira has also suffered from cutbacks in municipal spending on water-treatment chemicals.
In two years as CEO, Buechele has revamped the company to focus on areas such as polymers for oil and gas drilling, and the larger-volume business of enhanced oil recovery where chemicals are injected into a field to unlock trapped resources. He presented his last quarterly earnings for the Helsinki-based company today before he moves to lead German industrial gas giant Linde AG.
“Tarjei brings the industry knowledge we were lacking” in oil and gas, Buechele said today on a conference call. Johansen currently leads Schlumberger’s offshore, drilling and measurements business in North America.
Kemira will open a new office in downtown Houston at the end of this year or in early 2015 to capture more of the oil and gas market, the CEO said. Johansen will remain in the Texas city, where he worked for Schlumberger, which is based there. Kemira is also broadening its presence in the North Sea and South America, after acquiring polymer developer 3F Chimica SpA of Italy last year for 85 million euros ($118 million).
Shares of the Finnish company climbed 1 percent to 10.81 euros as of 12:41 p.m. in Helsinki. First-quarter earnings before interest and taxes, excluding disposals, increased 12 percent to 37 million euros, with margins widening to 7.3 percent from 6.5 percent.
The company has gained market share in the paper-additives market and Chief Financial Officer Petri Castren said today it will look for acquisition opportunities in that area.
Akzo Nobel NV, the world’s largest maker of decorative paint, is seeking a buyer for paper-chemical operations, people familiar with the situation said Feb. 27. The assets generate about $340 million in annual sales.
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