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DuPont’s Kullman Says China Growth to Benefit Solar Unit

DuPont Co., the largest U.S. chemical maker by market value, said its solar-materials and pigments businesses will be the biggest beneficiaries from a growing Chinese economy.

An acceleration in China would “greatly support” its performance chemicals unit, which makes titanium dioxide, a white paint-pigment, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ellen Kullman said yesterday in a Bloomberg Television interview from the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. China’s plan to double installations of photovoltaics helps DuPont’s electronic materials unit, she said.

Chinese government data shows gross domestic product accelerated to 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter after slowing for seven straight quarters. Still, DuPont “cannot be sure” growth momentum will continue in the country, where the company boosted sales volumes 16 percent in the fourth quarter, she said.

Kullman, 57, is shifting Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont’s focus to products that help meet global demand for food, energy and security. She expanded in food ingredients and biofuel enzymes with the 2011 acquisition of Denmark’s Danisco A/S. the CEO said Jan. 22 she expects to complete the sale of DuPont’s auto-paint unit to Carlyle Group LP for $4.9 billion in the current quarter.

Kullman is eliminating 1,500 jobs as a weak global economy challenges her target for adjusted annual earnings growth of 12 percent. Per-share profit will increase 2 percent to 7 percent this year as lower earnings from titanium dioxide pigment offsets gains in other units, DuPont said Jan. 22.

DuPont rose 1.2 percent to $48.07 in New York yesterday. The shares have gained 6.9 percent this year.

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