US government shutdown halts Tronox-Cristal antitrust remedy discussions with FTC

January 10, 2019

The partial shutdown of US government operations has stayed proposed antitrust remedy discussions related to Tronox’s planned acquisition of the titanium dioxide (TiO2) business of The National Titanium Dioxide Company Limited (Cristal) with the Federal Trade Commission. Tronox announced plans in February 2017 to acquire the Cristal TiO2 business for $1.67 billion with Cristal retaining a 24% stake in the combined entity.

“Throughout the duration of the partial shutdown of the US government, agency personnel are not allowed to work on the Tronox matter, including any further consideration of the proposed remedy, since the pending acquisition is not considered an essential matter under the agency’s shutdown guidelines,” Tronox says. In addition, existing deadlines for filing motions in the matter are extended to five business days after the shutdown ends, according to Tronox.

FTC maintains that the deal will significantly reduce competition in the North American market for chloride-process TiO2. FTC’s chief administrative law judge (ALJ) on 17 December issued an initial decision ruling against the deal. That decision concluded part three of the FTC review of the merger, allowing Tronox and Cristal to communicate directly with FTC commissioners on possible remedies.

On 5 December, Tronox proposed to allay concerns about the deal by selling two TiO2 plants at Ashtabula, Ohio, to Ineos for $700 million. Ineos would be a new entrant in the TiO2 market.

“We continue to work diligently with our partners at Cristal, Tasnee and the prospective purchaser of the Ashtabula complex, [Ineos], to reach a resolution with the FTC, and we remain optimistic one will be reached once discussions resume,” said Jeffry Quinn, president and CEO of Tronox.

By Robert Westervelt

Source: Chemical Week

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