US Tronox finds new potential buyer for Cristal TiO2 plant - CEO

Author: Al Greenwood


HOUSTON (ICIS)--Tronox has found a potential buyer for Cristal's pigment site in Ashtabula, Ohio, a deal that could allow Tronox to placate US regulators and proceed with the acquisition of Cristal, the CEO of the US-based titanium dioxide (TiO2) producer said on Tuesday.

The potential buyer is a well-capitalised, global chemical company that is not currently in the TiO2 industry, said Jeffry Quinn, Tronox's CEO.

Quinn did not identify the potential buyer.

He made his comments during an earnings conference call.

The three companies are in ongoing talks with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and these could conclude in the coming days, Quinn said.

"While the FTC must complete its work and internal processes, we are optimistic that the FTC will come to the conclusion that the proposed remedial transaction addresses their concerns about the Cristal transaction," Quinn said.

Tronox expects that the FTC will find that the proposed buyer is well qualified and capable of being a strong competitor in the North American TiO2 market.

All but a few issues have been sorted out in the proposed agreement, Quinn said.

Ashtabula has two plants with a combined capacity of 245,000 tonnes/year.

Tronox had to find another potential buyer for Asthabula after it failed to come to terms with Venator Materials, which had earlier expressed interest in the site.

Tronox and Venator had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), but that deal's exclusivity period expired before the two sides could agree on the terms of the transaction.

In a separate deal this past summer, Tronox signed a definitive agreement to sell its 8120 paper laminate grade business to Venator in an effort to satisfy the conditions that the EU's executive body, the European Commission, had set for its approval of the Cristal acquisition.

Tronox is still trying to address US concerns about the Cristal deal, which is why it is trying to line up another buyer for Cristal's Ashtabula plants.

Cristal is also known as National Titanium Dioxide, and Tronox announced its $2.4bn bid to buy the company in February 2017.

The FTC said it had no comments beyond what it has made on its website and in court filings.

(Adds FTC comments, paragraph 15)

Picture source: Tronox