Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that chemical company Quaker Chemical Corp.’s $1.4 billion acquisition of Houghton International Inc. is anticompetitive.

According to the complaint, which was first announced in July 2019, as proposed, the acquisition would have harmed competition in the North American market for aluminum hot rolling oil, or AHRO, and associated technical support services, and in the North American market for steel cold rolling oil, or SCRO, and associated technical support services. According to the complaint, the SCRO market includes sheet cold rolling oil, tin plate rolling oil, or TPRO, and pickle oil. AHRO is a critical input in the production of aluminum sheet. SCRO, TPRO, and pickle oil are critical inputs in the production of steel sheet.

Quaker and Houghton are the only two commercial suppliers of AHRO in North America and the two largest commercial suppliers of SCRO in North America, according to the complaint.

Under the final order, Quaker is required to divest Houghton’s North American AHRO and SCRO product lines and related assets to Total. The proposed settlement agreement also requires Quaker to divest to Total certain product lines used in conjunction with AHRO and SCRO, including steel cleaners and AHRO compatible hydraulic fluids.

The Commission vote approving the final order was 5-0. The staff contact is Terry Thomas, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-3218.

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