Germany's SGL Building First Plant In Southeast Asia

Company will invest $240 million in facility that will supply graphite electrodes used in electric furances.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Germany's SGL Carbon AG, a graphite and carbon maker, said Monday it would invest up to $240 million in Malaysia to build its first Southeast Asian plant to meet growing demand from steel producers in the region.

The plant, which will supply graphite electrodes used in electric furnaces, will be the region's first such facility and is expected to strengthen SGL's position as market leader, said Chief Executive Robert Koehler.

In the initial stage, a $60 million facility with the capacity to produce 30,000 tons of graphite electrodes a year is expected to be completed by late 2008, he said. SGL will then develop the Malaysian hub to manufacture other carbon and graphite products to cater to other industries such as aerospace, military defense and energy, he said.

''It is an important region for us. We have large, growing and loyal customers here. We want to move closer to them and grow with them,'' he told reporters.

Koehler said SCL, which currently has 11 plants in Europe and North America including a joint venture in China, is confident its 20 percent market share in Asia would continue growing.

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