FTC challenges proposed merger of titanium dioxide companies

December 6, 2017

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued an administrative complaint challenging the merger of two top suppliers of chloride process titanium dioxide or “TiO2”, a white pigment used in a wide variety of products including paint, industrial coatings, plastic, and paper.

The FTC’s administrative complaint charged that Tronox Limited’s proposed acquisition of competitor Cristal, for $1.67 billion and a 24 percent stake in the combined entity, would violate the antitrust laws by significantly reducing competition in the North American market (comprised of the United States and Canada) for chloride process titanium dioxide.

The FTC alleged that the acquisition, if consummated, would increase the risk of coordinated action among the remaining competitors, and increase the risk of future anticompetitive output reductions by Tronox.

Stamford, Conn.-based Tronox, and Cristal, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia, are two of the top three producers of chloride process titanium dioxide in the North American market.

The Commission alleges that without a remedy, the acquisition would allow the newly merged firm and the other top supplier, Chemours Company, to control the vast majority of chloride titanium dioxide sales in the North American market and more than 80 percent of chloride titanium dioxide manufacturing capacity in the North American market. According to the complaint, the acquisition would increase the likelihood of successful coordination among the remaining four suppliers. The market is already dominated by a few large players with a history of seeking to support higher prices by restricting production.

According to the complaint, proprietary technology and the significant investment needed to build a new titanium dioxide plant constitute significant barriers to entry into the market from new producers, and expansion by existing producers sufficient to defeat anticompetitive effects in the North American market is unlikely.

Source: RTT News