Dow says wins $2.16 billion in Kuwait arbitration

Thu May 24, 2012 3:53pm EDT

Dow headquarters are seen in Midland, Michigan in an undated handout photo. REUTERS/Dow/Handout

Dow headquarters are seen in Midland, Michigan in an undated handout photo.

Credit: Reuters/Dow/Handout

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(Reuters) - An arbitrator ruled Kuwait's state-run chemical company must pay Dow Chemical Co $2.16 billion for wrongly canceling a planned plastics joint venture in 2008, Dow said on Thursday.

The International Chamber of Commerce's International Court ruling against Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC) of Kuwait is final and binding and believed to be one of the largest ever arbitration awards, according to Dow's law firm, Shearman and Sterling LLP.

Kuwait pulled out of the $17.4 billion "K-Dow" petrochemical joint venture as the global economy sunk into a deep recession nearly four years ago and triggered charges from Dow that it had violated agreements.

"This outcome brings resolution and closure to the issue," Andrew Liveris, Dow's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Dow struggled through a turbulent period in 2007 and 2008 as the worsening economy hurt demand for many of its products, and the company was the subject of rumors that it could be bought out.

Those rumors were quashed after the company ousted two senior employees it accused of holding unauthorized talks to sell the company.

A Dow spokeswoman said it wasn't known when the company would receive the money from PIC.

PIC, a unit of the Kuwait Petroleum Corp, said it was considering its legal options.

"The company's management is discussing with lawyers all of the legal proceedings that are available," according to a statement by PVC's chairman and managing director Maha Mulla Hussain, cited by state-run news agency KUNA.

Dow and PIC currently operate four other joint ventures, including ME Global, EQUATE, Kuwait Olefins Co and Kuwait Styrene Co.

The December 2008 cancellation of the K-Dow joint venture had raised fears at the time among investors that Dow would be unable to finance its planned $15 billion purchase of specialty chemicals maker Rohm & Haas, a key plank in Liveris' strategy to shift the company toward the higher margin business.

That deal only closed after Dow and Rohm & Haas altered the terms, avoiding a trial at the last minute that had been filed by Rohm.

Shares in Dow climbed 3.3 percent to $31.52 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting By Matt Daily in New York and Sylvia Westall in Kuwait, addition reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington; editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Jeffrey Benkoe and Gunna Dickson)

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