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Imperial Chemical Industries

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Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) is a British chemical company, a producer of paints and specialty products (including ingredients for foods, specialty polymers, electronic materials, fragrances and flavours). It employs over 40,000 people and has a turnover of around 8.5bn (2000).

The current ICI is the remnant of a much larger corporation founded in December 1926 from the merger of four companies - Brunner Mond, Nobel explosives, United Alkali and British Dyestuffs Corporation. Competing with DuPont and IG Farben (later BASF), the new company produced explosives, fertilisers, insecticides, dyestuffs, industrial chemicals, printing materials, and paints. In its first year turnover was 27m.

ICI played a key role in the development of new products, including the acrylic plastic Perspex (1932), Dulux paints (1932, co-developed with DuPont), Polythene (1937), sulfamethazine (the first sulfonamide antibiotic), paludrine (1940s, a anti-malarial drug), and inderal (1965, a beta-blocker). Due to its success a a separate Pharmaceuticals Division was formed in 1957.

In 1993 however the company decided to demerge its chemical business from the pharmaceutical bioscience divisions. Pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, specialities, seeds and biological products were placed into a new and independent company called Zeneca Group (which merged with Astra AB in 1999 to form AstraZeneca[?], one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world). The company also moved away from bulk and industrial chemicals towards specialty chemicals during the 1990s.

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