Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. said Tuesday it has agreed with Clariant AG to buy the cellulose operations of the leading Swiss chemical manufacturer for 31 billion yen.

The acquisition will boost Shin-Etsu Chemical’s production capacity of methylcellulose to 47,000 tons a year, making the company the world’s largest methylcellulose manufacturer by leapfrogging Dow Chemical Co. of the United States.

Shin-Etsu Chemical’s Amsterdam-based unit, Shin-Etsu International Europe B.V., will control the cellulose business acquired from Clariant as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Shin-Etsu Chemical said the deal was part of its business strategy to expand its cellulose business in Europe by securing a major production base there.

Industry analysts said Shin-Etsu Chemical is expected to put its cellulose operations, which will have about one-third of the global market after the acquisition, among its core businesses. Using pulp as the primary raw material, cellulose-based chemicals have a wide range of applications, including uses in the building and construction industries as well as in the medical and cosmetics fields, according to Shin-Etsu Chemical.

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