ICI Agrees Sale of UK Methanol Business


ICI has agreed to sell its UK based Methanol business to Methanex of Vancouver, the world's largest producer and marketer of methanol. The value of the transaction to ICI is expected to approach £15 million. Methanol is a basic chemical derived from natural gas. It is used as a raw material for a wide range of industrial processes including formaldehyde, acetic acid and methyl methacrylate (MMA). ICI is now a world leader in specialty products and paints and the sale of this business is part of its strategy of divesting its industrial chemicals operations to focus on specialty chemicals.

ICI's methanol production assets based at Billingham, Teesside, UK are not included in the sale to Methanex. The 500,000 tonnes per annum unit will toll manufacture methanol for Methanex until its scheduled statutory maintenance shutdown at the end of April 2001 when it will be mothballed. Twenty one people employed by the business will transfer to Methanex while the remaining 67 will continue to be employed by ICI until the plant is mothballed.

Completion of the agreement, subject to regulatory approval, is expected before the end of this year and ICI will use the proceeds of the transaction to reduce Group indebtedness.

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