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Mon 21 May 2007 01:00 AM

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Saudi gains approval for Lyondell buy

NIC subsidiary will purchase eight plants in Europe, Australia and the Americas.

Saudi Arabia's National Industrialisation Co. said on Sunday a subsidiary had won approval for the purchase of U.S. company Lyondell Chemical Co.'s titanium dioxide pigment business.

Lyondell said in February it would sell the unit for about $1.2 billion to the National Titanium Dioxide Co. (Cristal), in which NIC holds a 66-% stake.

"Approval from competent authorities ... was obtained allowing the completion of the takeover transaction and the transfer of the assets' ownership to Cristal," NIC said in a statement posted on the Saudi bourse's Web site.

The operations being sold include eight plants in Europe, Australia and the Americas.

The deal includes a cash payment of $1.05 billion and the U.S. firm said it would use after-tax proceeds of $975 million to accelerate its debt reduction.

Titanium dioxide is a white pigment commonly used in consumer products including as paints.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is a shareholder of NIC. He had raised his stake in the company from 10 %, without saying how much he had bought.

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