US judge finds Tronox buy-out of Cristal would hurt competition

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 10 Dec 2018

US authorities have found that Tronox’s proposed buy-out of Cristal “may substantially lessen competition” for the specialist whitening product titanium dioxide in North America, upholding a block on the £1.3 billion buy-out.

However, it comes as the business already has a remedy in place to prevent the deal falling apart, with UK chemical giant Ineos geared up to buy the US sister site of the sprawling Stallingborough plant.  

The NYSE-listed company confirmed receipt of the initial decision by the Federal Trade Commission’s chief administrative law judge. It will now work with Cristal and Ineos to ensure the sale of a two-plant Ashtabula complex in Ohio. 

Jeffry N Quinn, president and chief executive of Tronox, said: “Although Tronox is disappointed by the ALJ’s decision, we continue to believe this output-enhancing combination will benefit TiO2 (titanium dioxide) consumers in the US and around the world. We look forward to working with the FTC staff on the proposed remedy, and we appreciate that we are now able, if necessary, to request approval of the remedy from the FTC Commissioners.

“As the owner of Ashtabula, Ineos would be a strong competitor with the expertise to increase output and efficiency, bringing a new energy to the TiO2 industry in a way that would benefit consumers.”

Under the proposal, the complex would be sold to Ineos and held separate during an interim period while it completes. Tronox and Cristal’s North American TiO2 production assets would continue to be operated by two different companies, meaning there would be no increase in industry concentration. 

It has been cleared by every other region either party operates in. 

Chemicals News
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