Specialty chemicals maker Solutia Inc today (30 June) said it has retained HSBC Securities (USA) Inc to explore strategic alternatives for its nylon business, including a possible sale.

"We have transformed our nylon business from a North American-focused fibre business into the world's second-largest producer of nylon 66 plastics," commented Jeffry N Quinn, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

He said the nylon business, whose brands include Ascend which is used to make flame-retardant fabrics, "is on a path for further growth and improvement in financial performance."

Solutia, however, wants to focus instead on its high-margin specialty chemical and performance materials businesses.

In 2007, the nylon business generated net sales of $1,892m, or 51% of Solutia's total revenue.

In 2008, first quarter net sales for the nylon business were $468m, an increase of 10% year-on-year. But adjusted EBITDAR was a loss of $7m for the quarter, a decrease of $35m on last year's quarter that is being blamed on higher raw material costs.

Solutia's nylon business is one of only two world wide businesses that own the complete range of technology to produce nylon 66.