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Italmatch 25th Anniversary – Moving into organic specialty chemicals (2007)

Italmatch's growth strategy continued in 2007, with the acquisition of Arese (Italy) manufacturing site

Communications Office

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In the early 2000s, as the Italmatch growth continued eastward, the company’s management was also busy searching for new opportunities to further expand the business into complementary markets. The opportunity presented itself with Arese plant and business, specialized in organic chemistry, today one of the group’s flagships.

The factory dates back to 1963, founded by Italcolloid. In 1973 it passed to Armor Hess UK, and a year later it was acquired by Akzo Chemie. The opportunity for Italmatch arose in 2007: the Dutch chemical multinational AkzoNobel was divesting some company branches and product lines, and no longer considered the site north of Milan as strategic.

Italmatch, however, understood its potential because these were chemicals that strengthened and, above all, complemented the group and the customers in the markets in which it was already present. The change of ownership was viewed with skepticism by the Arese employees, who up then had been able to count on the solidity of a large international group.

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Shared by Walter Martin, hired by AkzoNobel at Arese headquarters in 2000 and now Controller at Italmatch
"At the time, we were part of a company that had 40,000 employees. The news of the acquisition by Italmatch Chemicals, a company unknown to us and which had less than one hundred employees, filled us with doubts. In the post-acquisition presentation meeting they assured us that there would be an increase in production due to requests for new products from Italmatch historic customers.The acquisition led to a great opportunity for the plant, and since then we have tripled production, increasing from 10,000 tons in 2007 to 30,000 in 2023."
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Shared by Nadia Turri, Arese HR
"I started working with Dr Maurizio Turci to merge Arese into the Italmatch world, or better explained to integrate a highly corporate mentality, geographically far from an 'entrepreneurial' and dynamic reality: the impact was extremely positive."

Italmatch invested heavily in the plant on the outskirts of Milan, and the strongest message came from subsequent hires. Not only did the signs show that there would be no downsizing, but rather that the aim was for expansion.

Since then, Arese plant has remained a core for coordination, development and research for the various sectors of the company.

Initially, production focused on lubricating oils and polymer additives, but the plant also proved to be perfectly equipped to handle phosphorus trichloride and produce phosphorous acid and its derivatives for automatic transmission fluids.

New 2022 production line
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Shared by Maurizio Turci, Group GM Corporate
"2008/2009 will be remembered as an important moment of transformation of Italmatch Chemicals Group also as a result of exogenous macroeconomic factors. Among these, the 2008 crisis, which started in the USA - Lehman Brothers crack - and which was the symbol of a global crisis whose effects are sometimes still felt. Or the Perfect Storm in China in May of the same year (new model of Phosphorus Export Duty; the earthquake in Sichuan; the logistics block in Shanghai for the Olympic Games). Both factors severely tested the stability of the business and organizational model of Italmatch, which had recently acquired the Arese plant from Akzo Nobel and launched the new lines of "white" flame retardant products in Nantong. Internally, an important 'change management' of ICT transformation was also underway. Angela Hu (then CFO and Corporate Director China), Laura Andrei (Accounting and Group Tax Head), and Alessandra Gotta (Accounting and Finance) carried out an extraordinary teamwork, with dedication and professionalism. With the continued and fundamental support of Marco Magnano (Group Controller), another challenge was won. A still vivid memory of those moments and sincere thanks to the... Three Graces and to Marco."

The innovation hub

Today the plant also hosts the important Innovation Hub which coordinates all the Group’s Research and Development activities.

The Advanced Water Solutions Technical and R&D Center of Excellence deals in particular with developing chemical solutions for new applications, including in the field of environmental sustainability.

For example, it is active in research concerning electric car batteries and solutions for their recycling – and since 2020, Italmatch has been selected as a partner of the European project “IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) – Battery Innovations” together with the best industrial excellences of member countries.

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Shared by Sergio Generali, Site and Group's Energy Manager
"Together with sustainable R&D, the site is also working on its environmental impact. Starting from 2020, it has been the subject of an energy requalification intervention, with the construction of an industrial cogeneration plant. An efficiency path for the combined production of electrical and thermal energy, capable of satisfying 80% of the company's electricity consumption demand and 62% of the hot water and industrial process steam"

After its first acquisition in Italy, Italmatch Chemicals was ready to expand into other complementary markets with the Spanish oleochemicals company Undesa:

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