October 4, 2007

Zoltek Buys Mexico Plant to Expand Output Capacity

By Christopher Boyce, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Oct. 4--Company will spend about $100 million to purchase and retool the facility in Guadalajara.

Bridgeton-based Zoltek Cos. announced Wednesday that it has purchased a plant in Mexico to expand its ability to make carbon fiber in North America. It expects to begin production at the plant by the end of fiscal 2008.

Zoltek's carbon fibers largely are used to make high-strength, lightweight composite material for wind turbine blades.

The plant in Guadalajara, Mexico, formerly made Crysel acrylic fiber for Cydsa, a Mexican chemical and industrial company.

Zoltek said it will retool the facility to produce a low-cost primary input used in making carbon fibers. The total cost of buying and refurbishing the plant will be $100 million.

The company has made similar changes at plants in Hungary, said Zsolt Rumy, Zoltek's chairman and chief executive.

"The new facility in Guadalajara represents the fastest and lowest-cost alternative to increasing our precursor capacity and ... is a key building block in ramping up carbon fiber production in North America over the next several years," Rumy said in a news release.

The plant, which was idled by its former owner in January 2006, will start with 20,000 tons of annual production.

The company will increase production at the plant to 60,000 tons by 2011, which would enable Zoltek to produce 20 million pounds of carbon fibers, said Kevin Schott, the company's chief financial officer.

The acquisition will allow Zoltek to reach its stated goal of $500 million in annual sales by 2011.

[email protected] -- 314-340-8345


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