Global 500 rank: 147
2008 loss ($ millions): 7,321
The $12.7 billion acquisition of Houston-based Lyondell Chemical by Dutch company Basell was the beginning of the end for the newly formed chemical maker. The 2007 union created one of the biggest plastic makers in the world, but it burdened the company with debt that it could not handle amid the downturn.
For LyondellBasell, a weakening economy meant a decline in demand for products that go into the making of goods like auto parts and construction supplies. On top of that, it faced serious volatility in the prices of raw materials. High costs first led to bigger expenses in production. But once prices dropped, the company's inventory was devalued, making borrowing increasingly more difficult. The company ended up seeking bankruptcy protection in April.
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