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U.S. FTC settles with Tronox over purchase of Cristal titanium dioxide business

(Adds comment from Bureau of Competition, background, byline)

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) - Tronox Ltd has reached a settlement with U.S. antitrust enforcers that will allow it to move forward with its purchase of much of Cristal's titanium dioxide business, the Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday.

The company valued the deal at $1.673 billion when it was announced in February 2017.

Under the settlement, Tronox has agreed to sell facilities in Ashtabula, Ohio which make titanium dioxide. It had previously valued the assets at $700 million, and a British company, INEOS Enterprises AG, agreed to buy the plants.

The FTC said in December 2017 that it would go to court to block the deal, arguing that the companies are two of the three top suppliers of chloride process titanium dioxide. The third is the Chemours Co.

The chemical is used in paints, industrial coatings and plastic, the FTC said.

The FTC won victories in both a federal court and before an FTC administrative law judge.

"(Titanium dioxide) is an ingredient in many products used by consumers," said Bureau of Competition Director Bruce Hoffman. "This agreement will preserve a competitive marketplace, which ultimately benefits consumers in the form of lower prices and higher quality products."

Cristal is owned by Tasnee and Gulf Investment Corporation, according to the company's website. (Reporting by Diane Bartz Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)