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Spinning DTI’s Future: DuPont Said in Talks About Sale With Koch

DuPont’s planned divestiture of its textiles and interiors division by yearend could happen sooner in the form of a sale to Koch Industries.

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DuPont has been investing heavily in innovation and had promised 25 new fabric inventions within five years through DTI. Where that goal stands now, in light of a possible sale, is unclear.

DuPont, a Wilmington, Del.-based chemicals giant, has said that it wants to exit the textiles and interiors business due to rising operational costs, mostly due to the business’ heavy dependence on oil.

However, it was improved volumes and prices for nylon and spandex products for the DTI division that helped it contribute positively to DuPont’s fourth-quarter profits, announced Jan. 28, even though overall corporate earnings fell due to a one-time year-ago gain.

In the latest results for the period ended Dec. 31, DTI’s aftertax operating profits of $44 million compared favorably with year-ago losses of $1 million. Before special items related to the firm’s restructuring initiatives, DTI’s aftertax operating income rose to $36 million against a loss of $11 million a year ago.

DTI’s sales for the three months rose 4.5 percent to $1.55 billion from $1.49 billion, reflecting a 4 percent volume gain and a 1 percent price increase.

Bill Ghitis is president of apparel for DTI, and Steven R. McCracken is group vice president and general manager of the unit.

An industry source said that some of those familiar with the proposed deal believe that Koch would purchase DTI, and possibly sell the Lycra operation. Ghitis and McCracken, presumably, would be available to have a hand in the future operation of the Lycra business and possibly its acquisition either from DuPont or Koch.

Koch Industries was founded in 1940 by Fred Koch, who developed an improved method of thermal cracking, a process that converted heavy oil to gasoline. Subsequent investments include a crude oil-gathering business.

The different Koch businesses now include municipal finance and trading; commodities trading; energy; petroleum and chemicals, and minerals and fertilizers. Its plastics and fibers division includes Houston-based Kosa, which produces advanced polyester resins and man-made fibers.

Kosa has 14 manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and overseas in the Netherlands and Germany. Through Polarguard, a specialty fiber used for warmth, Kosa is a major player in outdoor apparel.
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