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Group.png "DuPont"  
(Corporation, Big Ag, Big ChemPowerbase Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png 5
DuPont logo.png
FounderÉleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours
HeadquartersWilmington, Delaware, USA
InterestsDu Pont family, GMO, Military-industrial complex
Big chemical company. Supplied large amounts of explosives to many US wars. Lots of chemical products and artificial fibers. Since the 1990s, it has started focusing heavily on genetic engineering.

About the companies spun off in 2019 see Dow Inc and Corteva.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, commonly referred to as DuPont is an American chemical company that was founded in July 1802 in Wilmington, Delaware, as a gunpowder mill by French-American chemist and industrialist Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours. Since then, it has been owned by the Du Pont family, one of the richest and most influential (deep state) families in the United States, and, thanks to more than a century of war profiteering, an integral part of the military-industrial complex. Since the 1990s, it has been heavily concentrating on genetic engineering.

In 2017 it performed a major reshuffle by arranging the merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont on August 31, 2017, and the subsequent spinoffs of Dow Inc. and Corteva. Prior to the spinoffs it was the world's largest chemical company in terms of sales. The merger has been reported to be worth an estimated $130 billion.[1][2][3] With 2018 total revenue of $86 billion, DowDuPont ranked No. 35 on the 2019 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States public corporations.[4] DuPont is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, in the state where it is incorporated[5] since the founding of the old DuPont in 1802.

History and Strategy

An explosive beginning

E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company was founded in 1802 on the banks of the Brandywine River near Wilmington, Delaware in the US. [6] The company began life as a partnership in gunpowder and explosives, becoming the nation's largest gunpowder manufacturer by 1811.[7] It supplied one-third to one-half the powder used by the Union Army during the American Civil War.[8]

When the company was incorporated in 1902, it controlled 36% of the US powder market. By 1905 it held a 75% share. DuPont alone was responsible for 56% of the national production of explosives and, with $60 million in estimated assets had become one of the nation's largest corporations. The company was so dominant that in 1907 the US government initiated anti-trust proceedings against it. In 1912 the company was deemed a gunpowder monopoly and was ordered to divest itself of a substantial portion of its business.[9] Despite having been streamlined, DuPont still managed to supply 40% of all explosives shot by the Allied forces during World War I (1.5 billion lbs). [10]

DuPont gradually diversified into other areas of business, besides explosives, in the early part of the 20th century. The experiments by the company's chemists with a product known as guncotton, an early form of nitroglycerine, led to its involvement in the textile industry. After the end of World War I, the peacetime use of artificial fibres proved to be more profitable than explosives. In the 1920s DuPont acquired the rights to make cellophane from a French company. Researchers from DuPont managed to produce moisture-proof cellophane, transforming it from a decorative wrap to a packaging material for food and other products. The 1920s also saw DuPont acquire General Motors, and enter into a 50-50 joint venture with Standard Oil (now known as Exxon) to produce and market the lead additive in petrol (known as ethyl). The new company was called the Ethyl Corporation. [11]

Economically, the company's most important discovery was Nylon. This product was first created in 1930, by a polymer research group headed by Wallace H. Carothers. A large number of synthetic products followed. These included Lucite (a clear, tough plastic resin), Teflon (a resin used in non-stick cookware), Butacite PVB interlayer (a plastic used in automotive safety glass) and CFCs.

The Second World War - making a killing (again)

World War II brought even more profits for DuPont. Over the course of the war the company produced 4.5 billion pounds of military explosives. The company was also heavily involved in weapons research, making major contributions to the development of plastic and other forms of explosives, gun and rocket propellants, and chemical warfare. From 1941-1945 DuPont contributed to the top secret Manhattan Project that was to produce the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The company was also the principal mass producer of plutonium in the US, having designed, built and operated the world's first plutonium production plant, the Hanford plant in Washington, at the request of the federal government. It also designed, built and operated the Oak Ridge pilot plant in Tennessee. During the war DuPont managed a total of 25 US government plants, manufacturing mainly explosives, methanol, ammonia and neoprene rubber. DuPont profited immensely from the war, emerging from the fighting with a cash fund exceeding $196 million. {

1945-1980: the rise and fall of fibres

In the 20th century, DuPont developed many polymers such as Vespel, neoprene, nylon, Corian, Teflon, Mylar, Kapton, Kevlar, Zemdrain, M5 fiber, Nomex, Tyvek, Sorona, Corfam and Lycra. DuPont developed Freon (chlorofluorocarbons) for the refrigerant industry, and later other refrigerants. It also developed synthetic pigments and paints including ChromaFlair.

The post-war years brought further discoveries for DuPont, including Mylar (a strong plastic film), Dacron polyester, Orlon (a bulky acrylic fibre) and Lycra. The company quickly became known as the world's most proficient synthesiser, and the range of textiles it supplied reoriented the whole synthetics industry.

The company faired extremely well, on the back of its discoveries, until the 1970s when the fibres industry stagnated from overcapacity. DuPont's stream of discoveries had fostered the company's over-dependence on fibres, without the company looking elsewhere for new products. When the demand for fibres collapsed in the mid 1970s, DuPont was in trouble.

Instead of attempting to diversify, the company concentrated on repairing its old business. DuPont's rebuilding efforts were hindered by its reduced commitment to research and development however. The company's continued reliance on fibres caused it to be one of the worst hit chemical companies in the 1980 recession.

Diversification in the early 1980s

Since DuPont was completely reliant on petrochemicals to produce the vast majority of its products, in 1981 the company purchased the petroleum company Conoco. The merger, which was the largest in history at the time, protected DuPont from the rise in crude oil prices, giving the company a competitive advantage. The move also helped secure DuPont's position as one of the worst air polluters in the US.

In the 1980s DuPont began to reduce its dependence on synthetic fibres, beginning with the purchase of Remington Arms (a manufacturer of sporting firearms and ammunition). The Remington Arms unit of DuPont made several multimillion-dollar contracts with the army to operate government owned plants, bringing the company greater financial security. Other purchases in the 1980s included the New England Nuclear Corporation, a leading manufacturer of radioactive chemicals for medical research and diagnosis.

The 1980s also saw DuPont branch out into the life sciences. The company began to delve into the development and production of biomedical products and agricultural chemicals and in 1982 purchased the agri-chemicals division of SEPIC. In addition to mergers and acquisitions, DuPont became heavily involved with joint ventures.

After the acquisition spree of the early 1980s, in the late 1980s management decided to return to its former policy of focussing on areas of maximum profit. The company began moving away from commodity production, instead concentrating on oil, healthcare, electronics and speciality chemicals.

The early 1990s - further streamlining

The onset of the Gulf War drove up oil prices and refinery margins leading to profits of over $1 billion for Conoco in 1990. However, a worldwide recession was hurting most of the rest of the company. The same year, DuPont entered into a pharmaceutical joint venture with Merck. DuPont later acquired Merck's share of the venture in 1998.

Throughout the 1990s DuPont continued to streamline itself, shedding its unprofitable businesses and getting rid of 36,000 of its employees. In 1993 the company sold its Remington Arms business. It also sold its acrylic business to ICI and in turn bought ICI's nylon business and later its worldwide polyester films, resins and intermediates business. By acquiring the ICI polyester technology DuPont could make plastic bottles, unfortunately a growing market, for less than anyone else in the world. The company also increased its marketing of synthetic fibres, finding new uses for its Lycra, Tyvek and Kevlar products.

DuPont accelerated the globalisation of the textile industry in the mid 1990s, taking advantage of the cheap labour and lax environmental standards in the developing world. The company set up joint ventures to manufacture Lycra in China and nylon in India, Brazil and Mexico.

The late 1990s - DuPont goes GM

DuPont reaffirmed its commitment to the life sciences as a core business area in the late 1990s. The company saw the bioindustrial, pharmaceutical and feed and food industries as potential areas for the increasing integration of chemistry and biotechnology. In 1997 DuPont acquired an interest in Pioneer Hi-Bred International, the world's largest seed company. The company also acquired Protein Technologies International, a leading supplier of soya proteins. In 1999 DuPont shed its Conoco subsidiary, using the money to invest in its growing biotech business by assuming 100% ownership of Pioneer.

The year 2000 saw DuPont produce the polymer Sorona. Although petrochemical derived, DuPont scientists hope to be able to produce plant-based Sorona fibres. It appears that DuPont is hoping to move into producing genetically modified plant-based fibres as an 'environmentally friendly' alternative to synthetic fibres.

Activities, 2000–2017

DuPont described itself as a global science company that employs more than 60,000 people worldwide and has a diverse array of product offerings.[12] The company ranks 86th in the Fortune 500 on the strength of nearly $36 billion in revenues, $4.848 billion in profits in 2013.[13]

DuPont businesses are organized into the following five categories, known as marketing "platforms": Electronic and Communication Technologies, Performance Materials, Coatings and Color Technologies, Safety and Protection, and Agriculture and Nutrition. The agriculture division, DuPont Pioneer, makes and sells hybrid seed and genetically modified seed, some of which produces genetically modified food. Genes engineered into their products include LibertyLink, which provides resistance to Bayer's Ignite Herbicide/Liberty herbicides; the Herculex I Insect Protection gene, which provides protection against various insects; the Herculex RW insect protection trait, which provides protection against other insects; the YieldGard Corn Borer gene, which provides resistance to another set of insects; and the Roundup Ready Corn 2 trait that provides crop resistance against glyphosate herbicides.[14]

In October 2001, the company sold its pharmaceutical business to Bristol Myers Squibb for $7.798 billion.[15] In 2004, the company sold its textiles business, which included some of its best-known brands such as Lycra (Spandex), Dacron polyester, Orlon acrylic, Antron nylon and Thermolite, to Koch Industries.

In 2011, DuPont was the largest producer of titanium dioxide in the world, primarily provided as a white pigment used in the paper industry.[16]

DuPont has 150 research and development facilities located in China, Brazil, India, Germany, and Switzerland, with an average investment of $2 billion annually in a diverse range of technologies for many markets including agriculture, genetic traits, biofuels, automotive, construction, electronics, chemicals, and industrial materials. DuPont employs more than 10,000 scientists and engineers around the world.[12]

On May 1, 2012, DuPont announced that it had acquired from Bunge full ownership of the Solae joint venture, a soy-based ingredients company. DuPont previously owned 72 percent of the joint venture while Bunge owned the remaining 28 percent.[17]

In February 2013, DuPont Performance Coatings was sold to the Carlyle Group and rebranded as Axalta Coating Systems.[18]

By the end of the decade, DuPont focused on production of GMO seeds, materials for solar panels, and alternatives to fossil fuels.

Merger with Dow

On December 11, 2015, DuPont announced that it would merge with the Dow Chemical Company, in an all-stock deal. The combined company, which was known as DowDuPont, had an estimated value of $130 billion, was equally held by the shareholders of both companies, and maintained headquarters in Delaware and Michigan. Within two years of the merger's closure in the first quarter of 2017 and subject to regulatory approval, DowDuPont planned to spin off into three separate public companies. The spin-offs occurred in 2019 resulting in Corteva (focused on the agricultural chemicals), Dow Inc. (focused on materials science), and DuPont (focused on specialty product industries).[19][20] Commentators have questioned the economic viability of this plan because, of the three companies, only the specialty products industry has prospects for high growth.[20] The outlook on the profitability of the other two proposed companies has been questioned due to reduced crop prices and lower margins on plastics such as polyethylene.[20]


  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20170911211900/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-dow-m-a-dupont/dow-dupont-complete-planned-merger-to-form-dowdupont-idUSKCN1BC4MO
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20170831222542/http://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i35/Historic-DowDuPont-merger-nears.html
  3. ://web.archive.org/web/20170901111903/http://michiganradio.org/post/dow-dupont-merger-becomes-official
  4. https://web.archive.org/web/20190823232428/https://fortune.com/fortune500/dowdupont/%7Carchive-date=August 23, 2019
  5. https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1666700/000166670020000006/0001666700-20-000006-index.htm
  6. http://heritage.dupont.com/
  7. Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  8. Munroe, John A. History of Delaware. Fifth Edition. Newark, DE. University of Delaware Press, 2006. 138.
  9. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/EI-du-Pont-de-Nemours-amp;-Company-Company-History.html
  10. http://heritage.dupont.com/
  11. Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London; A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont http://www.groundup.org/fcorp.htm, viewed 2 Nov 2002
  12. a b https://web.archive.org/web/20150216062733/http://investors.dupont.com/files/doc_financials/2013/AR/DuPont%202013%20Databook.pdf
  13. https://web.archive.org/web/20150215034759/http://fortune.com/fortune500/e-i-du-pont-de-nemours-and-company-86/
  14. https://www.pioneer.com/pv_obj_cache/pv_obj_id_A63E6368EAEB6E559AA431453626E78C775B0500/filename/techchart_lj_2012.pdf
  15. https://web.archive.org/web/20170202074235/https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/30554/000089322002000287/w57038ex13.txt
  16. http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20110422/BUSINESS/104220333/-1/NLETTER01/DuPont-quarterly-profit-up-27-?source=nletter-news
  17. https://web.archive.org/web/20120509151055/http://www.solae.com/About-Solae/News-Center/News-Releases/2012/2012-0501-DuPont-Solae.aspx
  18. https://web.archive.org/web/20130208024733/http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nascar-from-the-marbles/jeff-gordon-dupont-no-24-changing-2013-011440766--nascar.html
  19. https://web.archive.org/web/20151211220416/https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2015/12/11/dow-and-dupont-two-of-americas-oldest-giants-to-merge-in-job-dropping-megadeal/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_dupont_dow_800am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory
  20. a b c https://web.archive.org/web/20160210133505/http://www.economist.com/news/business/21690079-big-mergers-may-give-only-temporary-relief-industry-under-pressure-bad-romance