Correction: UK Venator to review plans to fully rebuild Finland TiO2 plant

16 July 2018 18:24 Source:ICIS News

Correction: The ICIS article headlined “UK Venator to review plans to fully rebuild Finland TiO2 plant” dated 16 July 2018 cited plant capacities from a database with inaccurate figures. Please read in the ninth paragraph … Ashtabula has two plants with a combined capacity of 245,000 tonnes/year. A corrected story follows.

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Venator Materials is reviewing plans for the full reconstruction of the company's pigment plant in Pori, Finland, given that the company is in negotiations to buy a complex in the US, the UK-based titanium dioxide (TiO2) producer said on Monday.

A fire damaged the plant in early 2017.

Earlier this year, the company said that reconstruction was proceeding well.

At the time, the plant was running at 20% capacity, and Venator wanted to re-introduce an additional 40% capacity as soon as possible.

Some of the additional specialty grade TiO2 production capacity was expected to be brought online during the second half of 2018 and the remaining part of the specialty capacity during 2019, Venator said at the time.

The company said it did not expect to bring back online the commodity TiO2 capacity at Pori before 2020.

Venator's reconstruction plans are now under review since it may now purchase a TiO2 complex in Ashtabula, Ohio state, US, it said.

Under an agreement announced on Monday, Tronox said it entered into a binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Venator, which will grant the UK producer a 75-day exclusivity period to negotiate the purchase of Cristal's Ashtabula complex.

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

The deal is connected to Tronox's proposed acquisition of Cristal, which is also known as National Titanium Dioxide.

The purchase price will depend on how the US approval process progresses in Tronox's bid to acquire Cristal, Tronox said.

Under one scenario, Venator would pay $1.1bn, Tronox said. Under another, Venator would pay $900m. In one circumstance, Tronox would pay Venator a $75m break-up fee if the Ashtabula sale does not proceed.

"In light of this potential acquisition, we are reviewing our near term needs for the full rebuild of TiO2 capacity at our previously damaged TiO2 facility in Pori, Finland," Venator CEO Simon Turner said in a statement included in a news release.

In a statement included in a separate news release, Tronox CEO Jeffry Quinn said, "The memorandum of understanding with Venator enables Tronox to vigorously defend the merits of the Cristal transaction in US District Court, while ensuring we are prepared to move swiftly with a remedy transaction at a reasonable valuation if the Ashtabula divestiture is required."

Cristal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Heidi Finch

By Al Greenwood