* Gas-intensive industries attracted by lower US prices
* SABIC says demand, margins in Europe being squeezed
* Did not identify which European businesses to close
DUBAI, April 18 Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC),
the world's biggest petrochemicals group, plans to cut about
1,050 jobs in Europe and close some operations because of a
gloomy business outlook, the company said on Thursday.
The company relies heavily on gas to power its plastics,
fertiliser and chemicals businesses and is eyeing much cheaper
supplies in the United States where a shale gas boom has cut
prices to half European levels.
Shale gas has helped transform the U.S. economic outlook by
luring gas-intensive industries like petrochemicals, while Asia
shows greater demand growth prospects.
SABIC said lower consumer spending on houses, cars and
appliances and less investment on infrastructure in Europe was
cutting demand and squeezing margins.
"Competition has intensified from other regions, especially
from the United States, which has the advantage of shale gas
development, and Asia, which has increased local production
capacity and consumption," SABIC said.
The company, which made a net profit of around $6.59 billion
in 2012 and has 40,000 employees spread across 40 countries, did
not identify which European businesses would close.
Two thirds of the job cuts will affect SABIC employees, with
the other third made up of contract staff. Talks with trade
unions over the restructuring plans have begun, it said.
Fears over possible redundancies hit production at one of
SABIC's plants in the Netherlands in February.