Annual Report 2023

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Feature Article 12 min reading time

WACKER operates in every major growth region, which, of course, includes India. Very few economies can match the speed of India’s growth. WACKER is investing millions of euros to expand its business on the Indian subcontinent.

Mission to Achieve Growth

“India has reached the moon,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi proudly announced. The unmanned Vikram moon lander touched down gently and safely at the south pole of the moon on August 23, 2023. The following day, a solar-powered lunar rover began its exploratory tour. India is only the fourth nation ever to make a successful trip to the moon. The country celebrated, the world was amazed – and Dr. Sascha Büchel and his team at Wacker Metroark Chemicals in Kolkata were delighted. After all, they contributed to the success of the mission. “The Indian Space Agency’s U.R. Rao Satellite Centre asked us for adhesives that could withstand the extreme conditions in space,” says Büchel. “In fact, a specialty silicone adhesive from WACKER was used for the solar panels.”

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Since 2000, WACKER has been operating a sales office in the Delhi metropolitan region. The focus here is on silicones, but the 14-member team also sells polymer binders for construction applications and other industries.


The Panagarh site, established in 2022, manufactures solid and liquid silicone rubber and ready-to-use silicone compounds. The site is located 160 kilometers northwest of Kolkata and has a staff of around 100 employees.


Silicone fluids and silicone rubbers have been produced at the headquarters of the joint venture Wacker Metroark Chemicals (WMC) since 1999.
The site has several application labs as well as a WACKER ACADEMY for training purposes.


WACKER’s sales office in Mumbai, which is also headquarters of the subsidiary Wacker Chemie India, provides support and customer service for polymer binders, silicones, fine chemicals, biotech products, and polysilicon. The location also operates a state-of-the-art technical center.


At its sales office in Bengaluru, WACKER has been operating a technical center for construction applications since 2019. The focus is on tile adhesive applications. The site also runs a WACKER ACADEMY for training purposes.

India is setting off into new worlds. With its 1.4 billion inhabitants, India overtook China as the world’s most populous country in 2023. What’s more, the International Monetary Fund estimates that no other major economy is currently growing so fast. “There’s nothing here that doesn’t exist,” says Büchel, who has been in Kolkata for almost nine years, where he heads WACKER’s silicone operations in India. “The country has enormous potential.”

WACKER has two footholds on the subcontinent: the national subsidiary Wacker Chemie India primarily drives polymer sales. Wacker Metroark Chemicals (WMC) is a fully consolidated Group joint venture responsible for the silicones business.

Soumitra Mukherjee and Dr. Sascha Büchel head the silicone joint venture run by WACKER and Metroark in India. (Photo)
Soumitra Mukherjee and Dr. Sascha Büchel head the silicone joint venture run by WACKER and Metroark in India.

“Our joint venture started making a profit in its very first year,” says Soumitra Mukherjee, who, together with Büchel, is in charge of WMC operations. His father founded Metroark, a chemical company, back in 1947. He had been purchasing raw materials from WACKER in Burghausen long before the joint venture was founded in 1998. For Mukherjee, WMC combines the best of both worlds: international experience and “Made in Germany” quality on the one hand, and local roots and market knowledge on the other.

The silicone specialties business has been growing three times faster than India’s gross domestic product for many years. As the standard of living rises, it is highly likely that demand will increase, too, going forward: per capita consumption of high-quality silicones in regions such as Europe and the USA is over ten dollars. In India, by contrast, it is well below one dollar, though the trend is for this figure to go up.

WMC has been the market leader in the Indian silicones business since 2018. Sales reached a record 225 million euros in 2022. Indeed, Büchel and Mukherjee forecast that volumes would continue to grow in 2023 and 2024 as well, rising by 15 percent, respectively.

The site in Kolkata has been making silicones for the textile and personal care industries since 1999. (Photo)
The site in Kolkata has been making silicones for the textile and personal care industries since 1999.

Wacker Metroark Chemicals Pvt. Ltd.

WACKER has been supplying chemical products to India since the 1970s. In 1998, the Group and the Indian silicone manufacturer Metroark founded Wacker Metroark Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. Silicone production started at the Amtala site in 1999. Since 2022, WACKER has also been manufacturing silicones in Panagarh.

The fully consolidated company operates sales offices and logistics centers in the most important trading centers in the greater India region, i.e., in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, including an office in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

WMC supplies silicone products to numerous key industries including textiles, personal care, automotive, construction, energy, coatings, plastics and adhesives, and packaging. The WACKER subsidiary currently employs around 300 people in India.

Solid silicone rubber grades are one of the products made by Wacker Metroark Chemicals at its Panagarh site. (Photo)
Solid silicone rubber grades are one of the products made by Wacker Metroark Chemicals at its Panagarh site.

“We take the best ideas from Europe to India and implement them here in the Indian way,” says Mukherjee, explaining WMC’s recipe for success. Take the following example: Mukherjee remembers well how the WMC team at the Amtala site near Kolkata developed a silicone emulsion for shampoos for a large consumer goods company in just seven days. Until then, WACKER had not done any business with that company. Today, WMC supplies the consumer goods giant worldwide with the emulsion from Kolkata.

WMC is particularly strong in India’s Personal Care segment – the company is excellently positioned there. Alongside global customers numerous Indian companies, too, are working with WMC’s developers on customized, innovative products for the local market. For instance, a silicone-based specialty defoamer was developed in the WMC laboratory. It saves 50 percent of the water used in handwash detergents, which are used a lot in India. “Developers in Europe don’t even have these applications on their radar,” says Sascha Büchel.

Strong in Polymers – Wacker Chemie India

Anand Gopaladesikan, who is responsible for WACKER’s polymers business in India, is equally familiar with the region’s distinct market conditions. The dispersible polymer powders of Wacker Chemie India are mainly intended for the construction industry. Skim coats, which are used in many new buildings on the Indian subcontinent, are one of the top sellers. Based on white or gray cement, they smooth out unevenness on concrete or plaster walls.

“Indian walls have to be very white – and very smooth,” he explains. It was WACKER, along with a leading cement company, who played a key role in creating this unique product category in India several years ago. “We are continuously working on enhancing the product,” Gopaladesikan points out. Recently, his technical staff successfully modified skim coats with hydrophobic polymer powders, which makes the product water-repellent – an important property, especially during the monsoon season.

Sharmistha Ghosh and Makarand Vanjari work at the Mumbai technical center, where they develop skim coat for the Indian market. (Photo)
Nibha Singh and Gokul Kumar M. at the Mumbai Technical Center support consumer applications for WACKER POLYMERS customers based in India.

Wacker Chemie India Pvt. Ltd.

In 2007, WACKER founded Wacker Chemie India Pvt. Ltd. to meet growing market demands and potential in the regional polymer business.

With around 40 employees, the subsidiary serves customers from the construction, adhesives, and household care industries on the Indian subcontinent.

Its technical centers in Mumbai and Bengaluru, which also operate WACKER ACADEMY training centers, cater to customers from the WACKER POLYMERS, WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS and WACKER POLYSILICON divisions.

“Our high-quality dispersible powders provide improved water resistance. This is a unique selling point in this evolving and demanding application.”

Another booming segment developed by WACKER’s key accounts are tile adhesives in south India. The Bengaluru technical center, which was established for this purpose, provides the required technical expertise and customer services needed to drive this segment forward. Business in high-quality wood and packaging adhesives is growing, too. Coatings for the paper industry are seeing accelerated demand because plastic is being replaced by paper, for example for drinking cups or online retail packaging material, he explains.

At the subsidiary’s headquarters in a suburb of Mumbai, where most of the 40 employees work, experienced chemists and application engineers develop customized solutions for local customers in these growth sectors. Gopaladesikan can rely on a very young, motivated team. “India simply offers an incredible talent pool,” he says.

Silicone demand per capita in selected countries

Silicone demand per capita in selected countries (graphic)

India – a Thriving Market

The country is making progress in many areas. At the turn of the millennium, 40 percent of the population was still without electricity, but now every Indian village is connected to the grid. The digitalization of administration is curbing corruption and the tax system has been greatly simplified. In addition, the “Make in India” initiative is promoting foreign investment in manufacturing. Apple now has iPhones manufactured in the country.

A lot of the products WACKER makes there are intended for the domestic market, too. What’s more, exports go to neighboring countries – Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka – as well as to countries in Southeast Asia.

WACKER has already responded to rising demand in India by expanding production there. The Amtala silicones site, once surrounded by rice fields and coconut palms, is now in the middle of a residential district. There was no more space for new facilities.

For this reason, a new production plant for silicone specialties went into operation in Panagarh, northwest of Kolkata, in 2022. This new site offers plenty of space and good rail and road connections. According to Büchel, the company is already examining further expansion steps.

India is experiencing a veritable construction boom. WACKER products not only ensure a pleasant indoor environment, they also enhance the energy efficiency of buildings. (Photo)
India is experiencing a veritable construction boom. WACKER products not only ensure a pleasant indoor environment, they also enhance the energy efficiency of buildings.

The solid and liquid silicone rubbers from Panagarh are used in pioneering sectors such as energy, medical technology and the automotive industry. Indians bought more than four million cars and 17 million two-wheelers in 2023. Experts believe that India, traditionally a country where trains rule supreme, will soon become the third largest automotive market in the world after China and the USA.

For WMC manager Büchel, these are good prospects, as dozens of silicone elastomers are used in automotive components. High-tech silicones are the material of choice for vibration dampers, electrical connectors or cooling circuit seals, as they have to withstand enormous mechanical stress and high temperatures at the same time. These silicones also protect chips and sensors from vibrations, dirt and moisture. Thermally conductive silicones are particularly important in e-mobility. They protect sensitive components, especially the batteries, from overheating. Büchel expects the value of silicones in electric cars to double compared to vehicles fitted with a combustion engine. India is one of the fastest growing markets for electric vehicles: 800,000 electric two-wheelers were sold in 2023 alone. Anand Gopaladesikan reports that although there are still no Tesla cars on the roads in Mumbai, the leading Indian car manufacturer Tata is having great success with small electric cars. He added that many couriers ride electric bicycles, too.

India’s Vikram moon lander. Specialty silicones from WACKER are used to bond its solar panels. (Photo)
India’s Vikram moon lander. Specialty silicones from WACKER are used to bond its solar panels.

At the same time, the state-subsidized expansion of renewable energy sources is making good progress: wind turbines, hydrogen electrolyzers and gigantic solar parks are being built at a rapid pace – and they all need high-tech materials made of silicone. “Up to now, solar modules were imported from China, but now Indian production is starting up,” says Büchel.

In line with India’s solar mission, there are plans for solar module capacity to exceed fossil-fuel generation capacity by 2030. If things go as well as with the Vikram lunar lander, this mission could succeed.