US judge finds Tronox Cristal tie up would hit TiO2 competition
Published: Thursday, 20 December 2018
A planned takeover of Cristal has stalled after a judge found competition will lessen if the deal goes ahead.
A judge in the United States has found that the proposed
acquisition of Cristal by rival titanium dioxide producer
Tronox could "substantially lessen" competition in the North
American chloride-route titanium dioxide market, raising the
possibility that the takeover will be blocked.
Tronox on December 10 announced the receipt of an initial
decision from the Federal Trade Commission’s
administrative law judge. The decision was based on the fact
that a merged Cristal and Tronox would control a large portion
of North America’s chloride-route TiO2 production,
with little material available for import from other
The decision by the judge forces Tronox to offer remedies to
this reduction in competition, possibly in the form of
Tronox has already offered to sell its Ashtabula TiO2
operation in Ohio to a rival producer. A planned divestiture to
Venator fell through in November but on December 4 a deal was
struck with INEOS to take over the plant.
"We look forward to working with the FTC staff on the
proposed remedy," Tronox chief executive Jeffry Quinn said.
Prices for titanium dioxide have remained steady in the US,
despite easing in Europe and China. In part this is due to a
10% tariff in place on US imports of Chinese material, as well
as sustained demand from buyers.
Fastmarkets IM assessed the price of titanium dioxide
pigment, bulk volume, cif US, at $2,900-3,400 per tonne on
December 6, unchanged year on year.