Government antitrust lawyers have often opposed merger activity in the chemical industry. During 1961 the Federal Trade Commission ordered Union Carbide to rid itself of the polyethylene film business it had acquired in merging with Visking Corp. Visking was the largest U.S. producer of polyethylene film when Carbide took it over in 1956; Carbide is the largest U.S. maker of polyethylene resin. Carbine has appealed the decision.
Less drastic was FTC’s ruling regarding Hooker Chemical Corp.’s acquisitions in phenolic resins. The Commission permitted Hooker to keep Durez Plastics and Chemicals, acquired in 1955, but forced it to sell the less significant phenolics business it bought later from Monsanto.
In what could prove to be a precedent-setting case, the Justice Department has charged that a joint venture set up by two chemical companies violates antitrust laws. The charge centers on Penn-Olin Chemical Co., owned by Pennsalt Chemicals Corp., and Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp., which started producing sodium chlorate at Calvert City, Ky., during 1961.
The twelve-year court battle over Du Pont‘s 23% interest in General Motors Corp. moved to a close when the Supreme Court ruled that Du Pont must dispose of its 63 million GM shares within ten years to comply with antitrust laws. The U.S. District Court in Chicago must now set a plan under which Du Pont can divest itself of the stock.