Huntsman makes $415M bid for Tronox assets

NEW YORK - August 31, 2009 Texas-based Huntsman Inc. said Monday it has signed a "stalking horse" agreement with Oklahoma City-based Tronox Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

That means other companies may submit competing bids for Tronox's assets before a bankruptcy court auction, which will likely take place in the fourth quarter of this year.

The assets Huntsman would acquire include titanium dioxide facilities in the Netherlands and the U.S., a joint venture interest in an Australian operation and electrolytic production facilities in the U.S.

Huntsman plans to finance 50 percent of the acquisition through debt.

The deal is subject to approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, where Tronox filed for Chapter 11 protection in January.

Tronox filed for bankruptcy protection to address legacy liabilities it incurred when it was spun off from former parent Kerr-McGee Corp. in 2006. The liabilities, which Tronox said are an obstacle to financial stability, include environmental remediation and litigation costs.

In a regulatory filing, Huntsman said that its bid for Tronox excluded assuming environmental liabilities related to Tronox's "past or current or facilities." That includes any fines imposed by a government agency.

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