Turkish billionaire in talks to acquire Eti Soda: source

09 June 2014 12:37 Source:ICIS News

soda ashLONDON (ICIS)--Initial talks have taken place with a view to Turkish billionaire Murat Ulker acquiring local soda ash producer Eti Soda from the Ciner Group, an Eti Soda source said on Monday.

Ulker's Istanbul-based private equity firm Gozde Girisim Sermayesi Yatirim Ortakligi is pursuing the purchase of all or part of conglomerate Ciner's 74% stake in the company, he added.

Ciner and China's Tianchen Engineering Corporation are building what is expected to be the world's largest soda ash facility, to be operated by Eti Soda near Ankara by early 2017. The $1.35bn plant will have a capacity of 2.5m tonnes/year and will produce trona-based natural soda.

Eti Soda, which is 26%-owned by the Turkish state, has a current soda ash capacity of 1.1m tonnes/year, according to company figures.

European synthetic soda ash producers, such as Belgium-based Solvay and Poland-based Ciech face a potential competitive threat from Eti Soda's expanding production volumes, although most of its output is currently sold in the Middle East and Asia, according to analysts for Raiffeisen Centrobank.

Ulker's fortunes stem from manufacturing, biscuit and confectionery production enterprises.

By Will Conroy