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February 27, 2007


Lyondell To Sell Titanium Dioxide Arm

Buyer is Saudi Arabian competitor Cristal

Michael McCoy

Lyondell Chemical has agreed to sell its titanium dioxide business to National Titanium Dioxide, which has its headquarters in Saudi Arabia, for about $1.2 billion in cash.

Lyondell's Millennium Inorganic Chemicals subsidiary is the world's number two producer of the white pigment, after DuPont, and operates plants in Europe, Australia, and the Americas. The business had sales last year of $1.35 billion. National Titanium Dioxide, also known as Cristal, is the number nine producer, selling product from a single plant in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.

Lyondell got into the TiO2 business in 2004 when it acquired Millennium Chemicals, its partner in the Equistar petrochemicals and plastics joint venture. Last July, however, Lyondell paid $2.1 billion to buy out its partner Citgo in a joint-venture oil refinery and soon thereafter told analysts that it was considering selling the TiO2 business.

Dan F. Smith, Lyondell's CEO, says the sale to Cristal "would allow us to accelerate our debt repayment and focus our resources on capturing the synergies between our refinery and our chemicals business."

Cristal CEO Talal Al-Shair says his company intends to continue operating the assets it acquires from Lyondell. He calls the purchase "an exciting component of our continued growth story."

The Saudi firm Tasnee holds 66% ownership of Cristal, and Gulf Investment Corp., an investment house established in Kuwait by the governments of six Middle Eastern countries, has a 33% percent stake in the company.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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