Tasnee signs deal to sell Jazan smelter to Tronox

Tronox’s acquisition of Tasnee’s Cristal — announced in February 2017 — has faced regulatory hurdles. (Courtesy, Tronox)
Updated 10 May 2018
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Tasnee signs deal to sell Jazan smelter to Tronox

  • Option agreement follows technical services agreement for building of Jazan facility
  • Titanium dioxide pigments are used in paper, paints and plastics.

DECODER: Titanium dioxide is a naturally occurring substance, mined in countries including Australia, South Africa and Canada. Titanium dioxide pigments are used in paper, paints and plastics.


Saudi industrial conglomerate Tasnee has signed an option agreement to sell a 90 percent stake in its titanium smelter in the south western city of Jazan to US-based Tronox.

The deal comes as a merger agreement between Tronox and Tasnee-subsidiary Cristal remains mired in regulatory turmoil.

Under the terms of the option agreement, signed between Tronox and Tasnee subsidiary AMIC (co-owned by Cristal), the US-based chemicals giant will acquire 90 percent of the Jazan-based titanium slag smelter facility, which has the capacity to supply up to 500 thousand tons (kt) of titanium dioxide slag and 220kt of pig iron.

The option agreement follows a technical services agreement between the parties, which will see Tronox provide technical assistance to AMIC to facilitate the startup of the smelter. Upon reaching the sustained operations of the facility, Tronox shall exercise its option to acquire the stake.

As part of the option agreement, AMIC will create a Saudi-incorporated SPV and contribute its ownership interest along with $322 million of debt currently held by AMIC. Tronox has agreed to lend AMIC and the SPV up to $125 million for capital expenditures and operational expenses — which may be drawn down on a quarterly basis as needed — to facilitate the start-up of the facility.

“By combining slagger operations expertise of Tronox with that of AMIC under the Technical Services Agreement, we will work together to ensure the successful commissioning and ramp-up of this world-class smelter in Jazan,” said Tasnee CEO Mutlaq Al-Morished in a statement.

The smelter agreement occurs against the backdrop of Tronox’s drawn-out bid to acquire Tasnee subsidiary Cristal, first announced in February 2017. Regulators in the US and Europe have opposed the acquisition — which would make Tronox the largest titanium pigment producer in the world — fearing the move would reduce competition in the market.

Tronox announced an extension to the acquisition agreement in March, and aims to complete the transaction by end-June.


Iraq to ask US for exemptions on some Iran sanctions

Updated 37 min 8 sec ago
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Iraq to ask US for exemptions on some Iran sanctions

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s economy is so closely linked to Iran that Baghdad is going to ask Washington for permission to ignore some US sanctions on its neighbor, Iraqi government and central bank officials said.

US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from an international deal aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program earlier this year and reimposed trade sanctions.

Washington has said there will be consequences for countries that do not respect the sanctions.

Baghdad is in a difficult position. Iraq imports crucial supplies from ally Iran, but its other major ally is the US, which provides security 
assistance and training.

The request would mark an 
important change in political tactics for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. He initially said Baghdad would respect all the US sanctions, but faced heavy criticism from rivals.

The officials told Reuters a delegation will travel to Washington to ask for exemptions in applying the sanctions. They did not say when that trip would take place.

“The government plans to ask Washington for a waiver. It’s going to happen soon,” one central bank 
official said.

An official in Abadi’s office declined to comment. An official in the US State Department said it was discussing Iran policy with its partners around the world.

“We have given the same message to all countries around the world that the President has said, the United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions,” the official said.

“Iraq is a friend and important partner of the US and we are committed to ensuring Iraqi stability and prosperity.”

Iraqi officials fear shortages of key items if Baghdad complies with all the sanctions, which could lead to political turmoil at a delicate time in Iraqi politics.

Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, air conditioners and spare car parts. The goods element of Iranian imports to Iraq was about $6 billion for the 12 months to March 2018, about 15 percent of Iraq’s total imports for 2017.

Energy contracts between the two countries contributed to a volume of trade of $12 billion last year.

The officials said they were asking each ministry to put together a list of imports that are essential for Iraq’s economy. Those items will make up the request for exemptions.

The US sanctions that came into 
effect earlier this month target Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals, its purchases of US dollars and its car industry. Other sanctions will come into force in November.