The Federal Trade Commission has ended the obligation of Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Occidental Chemical Corporation to obtain Commission approval, until 2004, before acquiring the stock, PVC assets of, or any interest in, any producer of PVC located in the United States. The prior-approval requirement was included in a 1994 consent order stemming from FTC charges that Occidental's 1986 acquisition of Tenneco Polymers, Inc. violated antitrust laws. The FTC modified the order pursuant to its prior-approval policy, under which the Commission presumes the public interest requires reopening and modifying prior-approval provisions in outstanding merger orders, consistent with the prior-approval policy.
Occidental is based in Los Angeles, California, and acquired Tenneco through its subsidiary, Occidental Chemical Corporation. Tenneco was based in Houston, Texas.
The 1994 consent order settled Occidental's appeal from the FTC decision that Occidental's acquisition of Tenneco would violate antitrust laws by substantially reducing competition in the U.S. market for mass and suspension PVC homopolymer, suspension PVC copolymer and dispersion PVC. The Commission order required Occidental to divest the Tenneco polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Pasadena, Texas, and the suspension PVC and dispersion PVC plant in Burlington, New Jersey, to a Commission- approved acquirer (or acquirers) within one year. The order was modified in 1992 to require Occidental to divest its suspension PVC plant in Addis, Louisiana, instead of the Pasadena, Texas, plant. The order also included the prior-approval provisions.
Earlier this year, the FTC announced a new policy with regard to prior-approval provisions, stating that it will no longer routinely require parties to a challenged merger to obtain prior approval for future transactions. At the same time, the Commission said it presumes the public interest requires reopening and modifying prior-approval provisions in existing orders and making them consistent with the policy.
Occidental petitioned the FTC in August to delete the prior- approval provision pursuant to this new policy. The petition was placed on the public record and no comments were received. The vote to reopen and modify the order was 4-0, with Chairman Robert Pitofsky recused.
Copies of the Commission's order deleting the prior-approval provision, as well as other documents relating to this case are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC Docket No. 9205)