NATIONAL BRIEFING

LyondellBasell had warned last week that it was considering a bankruptcy filing to rework its debt.
LyondellBasell had warned last week that it was considering a bankruptcy filing to rework its debt. (Ken Childress Photography Via Lyondellbasell)

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CHEMICALS

Lyondell Unit Files for Chapter 11

The U.S. arm of chemical giant LyondellBasell Industries filed for bankruptcy protection as the recession continues to weaken demand for its products. The Houston-based company said it had arranged for up to $8 billion in financing to keep operating while it reorganizes.

Lyondell Chemical and related affiliates listed assets of $27.1 billion and liabilities of $19.3 billion. It identified 79 affiliates that will file for bankruptcy protection, including one of LyondellBasell's European holding companies.

Netherlands-based parent LyondellBasell is the world's third-largest independent chemical company. The company warned last week that bankruptcy was an option to restructure its debt as consumer demand continued to slow.

Dow to Sue Over Failed Deal

Dow Chemical said it will pursue legal action against a state-owned Kuwaiti company that scuttled a $17.4 billion joint venture just days before the deal was to close. Dow said that talks for a similar arrangement with other investors are already under way.

The Midland, Mich.-based company could potentially recoup $2.5 billion from Petrochemical Industries after it backed away from the K-Dow Petrochemicals agreement, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Recouping any money from the deal would lighten what has become a sizable debt burden for the nation's largest chemical company. Dow agreed to buy specialty chemicals maker Rohm & Haas last July and had planned on using billions from the joint venture to help fund the $15.3 billion deal.

REGULATORS

Fuel-Efficiency Fines Assessed

Mercedes-Benz's U.S. division paid a $28.9 million fine in December for violating federal fuel-efficiency requirements, the government said Tuesday.

Mercedes-Benz USA paid the fine for imported passenger cars from the 2007 model year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in documents released to the Associated Press.

NHTSA assessed more than $37 million in fines from six automakers in 2008, records show. Many manufacturers of luxury vehicles consider the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, fines as the cost of doing business.

Volkswagen of America paid $4.5 million in fines in August for light truck violations. Porsche Cars North America and Maserati Automobiles of America both paid $1.2 million while Ferrari North America paid $1.1 million.


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