January 26, 2018 10:40:25 AM
Tronox Corp. has filed suit against the Federal Trade Commission, claiming the regulatory body is deliberating delaying action in an effort to block the mining/chemical company's efforts to complete a sale which would more than double its sales of titanium dioxide (TiO2).
Oxford attorney Paul Cassisa Jr. filed the suit on behalf of Tronox on Tuesday in U.S. District Court of Northern Mississippi in Aberdeen. The suit is asking the court for injunctive relief against the FTC that would require the FTC to either file an injunction that would allow Tronox to argue its case before the court or rule the FTC has no basis for contesting the sale.
The suit claims the FTC has abandoned its normal practices by failing to act on the company's acquisition by keeping the case mired in administrative limbo in order to "run out the clock" until the purchase agreement expires on May 21.
In February, Tronox announced it had agreed to purchase Saudi Arabia-based National Titanium Dioxide Co. LTD, also known as Cristal, which would push its sales of titanium dioxide to $3 billion, based on sales reported by the companies in 2016.
Tronox operates 20 facilities with 15,000 employees worldwide. Its products include titanium dioxide, a paint-additive used in a multitude of products to create a bright white finish. The company has three facilities that produce titanium dioxide, including the Tronox plant in Hamilton. The Hamilton plant employs 420 people and is the company's largest producer of titanium dioxide.
In 2016, Tronox had $1.3 billion in sales of titanium dioxide while Cristal had sales of $1.7 billion.
The suit hopes to force the FTC to either take action in court to challenge the sale or approve the purchase before the purchase agreement expires in May.
"We believe the FTC should have to defend its position by bringing a federal-court action to timely litigate the merits of the acquisition -- consistent with the FTC's own ordinary practice -- or it should be enjoined from trying to block the acquisition," Tronox President and CEO Jeff Quinn said during a Wednesday conference call. "The FTC should not be allowed to lay in wait until the very last moment, after all other approvals are obtained, to file suit in federal court to block the deal as a litigation tactic. They've had almost 11 months to review this deal. If they are going to oppose it, all we ask is that it be done on a timely manner."
FTC Senior Public Affairs Specialist Betsy Lordan said Thursday the commission "has no comment at this time."
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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