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Partners in progress: Huntsman Chemical.


Utah-based Huntsman Chemical is one of America's largest enterprises doing business in the Soviet Union. Since 1989, the company has successfully undertaken three joint ventures. The first one, in February 1989, was an agreement with the Marriott Corp. and Aeroflot, the Soviet airline, to upgrade the airline's in-flight food service. The newly formed operatin is located outside Moscow. The second undertaking was the construction of a precast concrete plant in Yerevan to provide housing for victims of the 1988 Armenian earthquake. The third was a joint-venture involving the expansion of a polystyrene plant outside of Kiev in the Ukraine.

"The plant in Armenia is strictly a humanitarian effort," said a spokesperson at Huntsman Chemical. "It represents a $2.5 million contribution by the Huntsman family. The precast concrete plant will provide housing for 26,000 people annually. Previously, there had been no plant in Armenia capable of manufacturing precast, hollow-core concrete housing materials."

The concrete plant began production in August of floor and ceiling precast panels. Of Armenia's 3.2 million people, more than 500,000 were left homeless after the December 1988 earthquake. Labor missionaries from the LDS church will provide assistance in running the plant. In addition, Huntsman expects to hire 125 Armenians.

In June the company announced a joint venture to expand an existing polystyrene plant outside of Kiev. The joint venture represents an investment of approximately $40 million on the part of Huntsman Chemical. At the announcement at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, company chairman Jon Huntsman admitted. "In the short term, an investment like this does not look good. But sometimes you must be patient and forgo the short-term profit for the long-term gain." Currently, the plant employs 6,500 Ukranians and will hire American supervisors.

A company spokesperson said a joint venture in the Soviet Union is a risky proposition. "There's no question the risks are greater in the Soviet Union, but Mr. Huntsman's philosophy is different from that of other entrepreneurs. He believes there is a tremendous opportunity to help the Russians rejoin the economic community of nations - they have spent more than 70 years under a system that didn't work, and it takes time to dismantle such a system."

Huntsman Chemical presently uses rubles to purchase commodities it needs to operate its plastic business. "We accept rubles in the short-term because we are confident that long-term economic an political changes in the Soviet Union will allow the plant to become profitable. You can sit back and wait for change," said the company spokesperson, "or you can be an active participant in helping to shape a nation in transition. Huntsman has chosen to do the latter."
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Title Annotation:Huntsman Chemical Corp.'s joint ventures in the Soviet Union
Author:Swaner, Michele
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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