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FMC cuts back Philadelphia operations

FMC Corp., the industrial conglomerate from Chicago, said it will scale back some of its Philadelphia employment, pending government approval of a joint venture to be based in St. Louis, Missouri.
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FMC Corp., the industrial conglomerate from Chicago, said it will scale back some of its Philadelphia employment, pending government approval of a joint venture to be based in St. Louis, Missouri. The company has 450 employees working for its chemical businesses at the Mellon Bank Center in Center City, which is expected to decline after FMC and Solutia Inc., of St. Louis, combine their phosphorus and phosphate businesses. “It will involve a small percentage of our employees in Philadelphia,” said Thomas Kline, a spokesman for FMC in Chicago, who said he could not specify the number of jobs that would be lost. The joint venture, which would be called Astaris, must be approved by the Federal Trade Commission. In the past year, FMC has shed other employees through chemical-business divestitures and reduction in shared-services operations that served the chemical businesses. In August, FMC sold its process-additives business to Great Lakes Chemical Corp. for US$ 162 million. That company employed 500 world-wide. In July, FMC sold its bioproducts division, which supplies the life-sciences research industry, for US$ 25 million to Cambrex Corp., which had 100 employees world-wide. Chemical sales accounted for 53% of FMC“s US$ 4.1 billion in sales last year. FMC has hired Cushman & Wakefield in Philadelphia to evaluate its needs for space at the Mellon Bank Center. Kline said the company occupies 10 floors in the building and may sublease three or four of those floors. FMC came to Center City in 1975, when it consolidated its chemical operations from New York and Middleport, New York at 2000 Market Street. It had earlier purchased American Viscose Corp. FMC is a major producer of soda ash and hydrogen peroxide. The company was founded in California as John Bean Spray Pump Co., after its founder, who invented a way to continuously spray fields with insecticide. It became Food Machinery & Chemical Corp. in 1948, then shortened its name to FMC Corp. in 1961.

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