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Chemours to divest sulfuric acid unit

Sale to Veolia ends divestment program that began after spinoff from DuPont

by Alexander H. Tullo
June 15, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 25

Credit: Chemours
Vergnano on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange when Chemours was spun off of DuPont last June.
A man smiles in delight as trading screens flicker. Beside him, a trader marvels at how gradually the floor of the New York Stock Exchange has become a sound stage, no more real a place to exchange equity than a hansom cab is a means to get around.
Credit: Chemours
Vergnano on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange when Chemours was spun off of DuPont last June.

In another divestiture, the DuPont spin-off Chemours has agreed to sell its sulfur products business to the French waste services firm Veolia for $325 million.

The business, which generated revenues of $262 million last year, operates on-site sulfuric acid regeneration plants at refineries that use the acid as an alkylation catalyst. It also runs a large acid recovery and sulfur products facility in Louisiana as well as four plants that make sulfuric acid from sulfur.

The sulfur products business has been a part of Chemours—and before it, DuPont—since the 1860s. Chemours boasts that the unit supplied John D. Rockefeller’s first refinery with sulfuric acid delivered in horse-drawn wagons.

Veolia says the unit will “tuck-in” nicely to its business of managing hazardous waste and pollutants for industrial clients.

The sale wraps up Chemours’ review of its chemical solutions portfolio, according to CEO Mark Vergnano. Earlier this year, the companysold its aniline facility to Dow Chemical for $140 million. In April, it agreed to sell its disinfectants business to Lanxess for $230 million.

The company also shuttered its sodium metal plant in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and improved the cost structure of its methyl amines business. Vergnano says Chemours will keep its growing business in cyanide, which is used to extract gold from ore.

In a note to clients, Jefferies stock analyst Laurence Alexander wrote that the sale should improve Chemours’ balance sheet. Future strengthening of the company, he said, will depend on a rebound in its struggling titanium dioxide business and improvement in fluorochemicals.


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