Firms required to divest plants to maintain competition
The European commission has approved a large-scale joint venture between the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) businesses of speciality chemicals manufacturers Solvay and Ineos. The approval is conditional on the companies selling off various plants to maintain competition in the European market.
The companies first set out their plan to join forces in May 2013. Since then, they have been negotiating with the commission to satisfy the regulator that the resulting ‘world-class PVC producer’ would not have excessive control over the local supplies of PVC and associated products like sodium hypochlorite bleach. The companies say that the combination will enable them to compete better globally and be more sustainable.
To fulfil the commission’s competition requirements, Ineos will have to sell off plants in Tessenderlo, Belgium; Mazingarbe, France; Beek, the Netherlands; Wilhelmshaven, Germany; and Runcorn, UK. These plants variously produce PVC resin and related products including chlorine, ethylene dichloride (EDC) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). Whoever buys these plants will effectively get a fully integrated PVC business, but will also need to enter a further joint venture with Ineos–Solvay to produce chlorine at the Runcorn site.