Tronox mulls response to NYSE suspension

25 September 2008 22:44  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US pigment maker Tronox said on Thursday it was considering whether to appeal the decision by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to suspend the company's stock listing on 30 September.

The NYSE said it determined that the company's Class A and Class B common stock should be suspended just before the market opens next Tuesday because Tronox's market capitalisation over a consecutive 30-day trading period fell below $25m (€17m) - the minimum threshold for maintaining a NYSE listing.

"At this time, we're reviewing our course of action," said Debbie Schramm, media spokesperson for the world's third largest maker of titanium dioxide (TiO2), which is used in coatings, plastics, cosmetics and paper products.

If the company chooses to appeal the suspension, NYSE guidelines state the appeal must be submitted within 10 days of being notified of the de-listing and include an appeal fee of $20,000.

In the meantime, Schramm said, "we will trade on the NYSE through end-of-day Monday (29 September), and we're planning to begin trading on the OTC (over-the-counter) Bulletin Board on Tuesday morning".

As for the future of Tronox, Schramm would not offer many specifics, but said "we're considering all strategic alternatives to improve the business. We have continued to sell volumes at high cost, but we're still trying to offset some of those costs with price increases."

Among other measures implemented this year, Tronox in mid-May indefinitely suspended its quarterly dividend, at which time its stock price was about $3.40/share.

Tronox stock closed at 19 cents/share on Thursday after hitting a 52-week low of 14 cents/share on 17 September.

The ills facing Tronox, Schramm said, are those facing other TiO2 producers: high production, raw material and transportation costs, and a poor US economy.

"Ours is a quality-of-life product," she said, "and the economy affects that."

North American contract prices for TiO2 range from 104-114 cents/lb ($2,293-2,513, €1,559-1,709/tonne) (free delivered), according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing

Other US producers of TiO2 include Cristal, DuPont, Hunstman and Kronos.

($1 = €0.68)

For more on TiO2,  visit ICIS chemical intelligence
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry, go to ICIS connect

By: Larry Terry
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