Albemarle Corporation is a chemical company with corporate headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is a specialty chemical manufacturing enterprise. The company employs approximately 6,900 people and has customers in approximately 100 countries.
The Albemarle Paper Manufacturing Company opened in 1887 with the production of kraft paper, also known as Kraft, and blotting paper.
In 1921, a team of chemists performing research for General Motors discovered tetraethyllead (TEL) had antiknock properties as a gasoline additive. As a result, the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation in Richmond, Virginia began production of tetraethyllead in 1937. TEL remained the primary product of the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation through the next four decades. When the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation expanded its product line (particularly to include MMT), its name was changed to the Ethyl Corporation.
The Albemarle Paper Manufacturing Company borrowed $200 million in 1962 and purchased Ethyl Corporation, a company more than thirteen times its size.
Throughout the next few decades, The Ethyl Corporation, under the direction of the Albemarle Paper Manufacturing Company, further expanded their product line to include bromine (in 1969 in Magnolia, Arkansas), lubricant additives (in 1975), and aluminum alkyls (in 1976 in Feluy, Belgium). Further expansion of The Ethyl Corporation included the purchases of Dow Chemical's bromine division, Russ Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Potasse et Produits Chimiques (PPC).
In February 1994, Ethyl spun off its chemical businesses to create an independent, publicly traded company named Albemarle Corporation. Albemarle was headquartered in Richmond, VA, until 2008 when it announced plans to move its corporate headquarters to Baton Rouge, LA. In 2015 the company announced the relocation of its headquarters from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Charlotte, North Carolina.
As of 2017 Albemarle Corporation shares are mainly held by institutional investors (The Vanguard Group, BlackRock, Franklin resources and others)
In July 1994, The Albemarle Corporation expanded itself by acquiring the Asano Corporation, a sales and marketing company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The corporation sold both its electronic materials business and its alpha olefins, polyalphaolefins and synthetic alcohols businesses by 1996, and in 1997 formed an alliance with Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals, Inc. That same year, the corporation was restructured to form two global business units: Polymer Chemicals and Fine Chemicals.
In 1998, the Albemarle Corporation bought a custom manufacturing and oilfield chemicals plant in Teesport, England. In the same year, a joint venture was signed between Jordan Dead Sea Industries Company, Arab Potash Company, and one of Albemarle Corporation's subsidiaries. Another joint venture was signed in 2000 by the corporation and Jinhai Chemical and Industry Company, located in China. More chemical plants were opened within the next five years in Port-de-Bouc, France and Bergheim, Germany (after the acquisition of Martinswerk GmbH).
Since 2000, Albemarle Corporation has acquired assets of Ferro Corporation's PYRO-CHEK flame retardant business; Martinswerk GmbH; the custom and fine chemicals businesses of ChemFirst Inc.; the Ethyl Corporation's fuel and lubricant antioxidants business; the phosphorus-based polyurethane flame retardants businesses of Rhodia; Atofina S.A.'s (Paris) bromine fine chemicals business; Taerim International Corporation, and the refinery catalyst business of Akzo Nobel N.V.
Also in 2000, Albemarle Corporation, Cytec Industries Inc., and GE Specialty Chemicals, Inc., a subsidiary of General Electric Company, announced their intention to form a new business-to-business internet joint venture, PolymerAdditives.com. The creation of this venture was intended to help provide materials faster and more efficiently directly from trusted suppliers.
In the years following, Albemarle acquired its refinery catalysts platform from Akzo Nobel N.V. in 2004 with sites and/or joint ventures in the Netherlands, Houston, France, Brazil, Japan and Singapore. In partnership with UOP, Albemarle created the Hydroprocessing Alliance in 2006 to deliver integrated refinery solutions and hydroprocessing technologies and catalysts to the refining industry.
Albemarle continued its international expansion in 2007, opening a new regional sales office in Dubai to meet growing market needs in India and the Middle East. In 2008, Albemarle and Weifang Sinobrom Import and Export Company, Ltd. (Sinobrom) reached an agreement in principle to form a new joint venture that will combine the existing business of Sinobrom, a leading marketer of bromine derivatives in China, with Albemarle's global bromine expertise in the specialty chemical industry, forming Sinobrom Albemarle Bromine Chemicals (Shandong) Company Ltd. in 2009, Albemarle and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) Affiliate, TAYF, create Saudi Organometallic Chemicals Company (SOCC), a Strategic Catalysts Joint Venture, to build a world-scale organometallics production facility strategically located in the Persian Gulf industrial city of Al-Jubail.
In 2012, Albemarle introduced its Electronic Materials business unit and expanded its production capabilities for finished polyolefin catalysts in Baton Rouge. Albemarle also expanded its South Haven API production site and upgraded its multi-product cGMP active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing facility. In 2014, Albemarle completed the sale of its antioxidant, ibuprofen and propofol businesses to SI Group, allowing an increased focus on its bromine and catalyst franchises.
In July 2014 Albemarle and Rockwood Holdings, Inc. announced a definitive agreement under which Albemarle would acquire all outstanding shares of Rockwood in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $6.2 billion. The acquisition made Albemarle one of the world's premier specialty chemicals companies, with market-leading positions across four high-margin businesses: lithium, catalysts, bromine and surface treatment.
Albemarle completed the acquisition in January 2015, expanding its customer reach as well as increasing its diversity across end markets, technologies and geographies. As a result of the acquisition, Albemarle currently employs approximately 6,900 people and serves customers in approximately 100 countries.
In the wake of completing the acquisition, Albemarle announced it would realign its global business units: Chemetall Surface Treatment, Refining Solutions and Performance Chemicals. Chemetall supplies specialty chemicals, with a focus on processes for the surface treatment of metals and plastics. Refining Solutions provides catalysts that can be used through the entire refinery process. Performance Chemicals will combine the lithium, aluminum alkyls and derivative catalysts businesses with Albemarle’s existing Performance Chemicals global business unit.
Though beginning as a blotting paper manufacturer, The Ethyl Corporation later abandoned paper manufacturing when it sold Oxford Paper in 1976. Since the late 1990s, Albemarle Corporation has manufactured bromine in countries such as Jordan and France.
Albemarle Corporation became a global leader in the flame-retardant chemicals technologies, with production plants all across the globe in the United States, China, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, and the United Kingdom. The corporation also has a line of antioxidants and blends which concentrate on improving storage life and stability of fuel and other lubricant products. The acquisition of the phosphorus-based chemistry of Rhodia S.A. included products used in rigid and flexible polyurethane foam applications and ammonium polyphosphate products. Later on, the acquisition of Martinswerk GmbH added pigments for paper applications, aluminum oxides used for flame-retardant, polishing agent, catalyst, and niche ceramic applications, as well as magnesium hydroxide mainly used as a flame-retardant.
Since the acquisition of the Catalysts Division of AkzoNobel in 2004, Albemarle Corporation is one of the world's largest producers of hydro processing catalysts (HPC) and fluidized catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts used in the petroleum refining industry. Production locations (excluding joint ventures in Brasil and Japan) are: Bayport, Texas and Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Following the acquisition of Rockwood Holdings in 2015, Albemarle has become a producer of lithium products, including lithium salts and metals, organo-lithium and cesium and specialty metals. Albemarle continues to penetrate lithium-based energy storage products, including e-mobility batteries and batteries for the automotive industry. Albemarle is also a provider of surface treatment products and services for markets including automotive OEM, aerospace, heavy equipment and more.
Albemarle's new businesses focus on the manufacture of custom and proprietary fine chemicals and chemical services for the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. With the Alternative Fuel Technologies division, Albemarle strives to establish itself as a major player in the fast-growing market of biofuels: gas-to-liquids (GTL), coal-to-liquids (CTL). It recently (2008) announced the acquisition of Sorbent Technologies Corporation, whose proprietary technology controls mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Albermarle was one of the three different chemical companies that backed the Citizens for Fire Safety industry group that influenced fire-safety policy by lobbying for flame retardant use in consumer products like furniture and baby products.