“This feels like Lehman 2.0,” said Lanxess AG’s CEO, Matthias Zachert, on an ad hoc investor call in June.
He was referring to demand destruction and de-stocking in the chemicals industry. The systematic shock has also been felt in the packaging and pulp & paper industry, and further down the supply chain, with shipping businesses warning of lower volumes over the past few months.
“We’d hoped that the end of 2022 was the trough for this, but the situation has only gotten worse,” one chemicals analyst told 9fin. “We’re very actively managing our chemical exposure at the moment and turning down way more of the opportunities we’ve seen in primary and secondary.”
Some caution that demand could also be a crucial underlying issue. After all, the chemicals industry is usually one of the first to feel any fluctuations in demand from end-markets.