Tronox Seeks Ashtabula Sale to Ineos
To address the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) competition concerns over its merger with Saudi Arabia pigment producer Cristal, Tronox wants to sell its titanium dioxide (TiO2) complex in Ashtabula, Ohio, USA, to Ineos for $700 million.
A previous attempt to sell the plant to Huntsman subsidiary Venator Materials failed, although Venator is buying Tronox’s paper laminate TiO2 business in Botlek, the Netherlands, to appease European regulators.
Jeffry Quin, president and CEO of Tronox, said the deal would ideally position the Ashtabula complex and Ineos to flourish as a stable and competitive new entrant into the TiO2 market.
For the sale to proceed, Tronox has filed a motion with an administrative law judge seeking consent to present the divestment to the FTC. The US pigment producer has asked the court to make a determination within five days as to whether there is a reasonable possibility of a settlement. It also wants the court to recommend the FTC accept the sale in resolution of its market concerns.
Tronox has to get the judge’s permission before it can present the sale to the Commissioners because the FTC previously challenged the merger in its own administrative court. If the judge grants the motion, Tronox, Cristal and Ineos would be able to engage in direct discussions with the FTC Commissioners as to the deal’s merits.
Quinn said he is confident the proposed sale benefits US consumers while resolving allegations in the FTC’s complaint.
Tronox first announced its $2.4 billion bid for Cristal in February 2017. The merger has received approval from eight other regulators, including Europe, with clearance in the US the final hurdle.