900 employees face axe as firm evaluates titanium dioxide options

US speciality chemicals firm Huntsman is cutting 900 jobs in its pigments and additives business to save about $130 million annually by mid-2016. The move is part of what Huntsman is calling a ‘comprehensive restructuring’ programme.

The company is also evaluating options for reducing its titanium dioxide (TiO2) production capacity, having purchased the pigments and other peripheral businesses of US speciality chemicals company Rockwood in October. ‘The global TiO2 market has excess inventory and they are working [that] down,’ says James Sheehan, a chemicals equity analyst for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey based in Georgia, US.

Sheehan says this extra volume has been created in part by a significant new capacity in China that is benefitting from low feedstock ore prices. In addition, he says there are many alternatives, like polymeric extenders, being used to dampen down the recent volatility in TiO2 prices.