ICI compromise close

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BRUSSELS - The European Commission will next week try to sanction a compromise to allow the Du Pont-ICI merger, despite the dominant position Du Pont would attain in the nylon carpet-fibre market, writes Sarah Lambert.

ICI rejected suggestions that it should divest some of its business, on the grounds that its fibre production is too closely integrated. Senior EC advisers yesterday afternoon discussed allowing ICI to swap some of its fibre factories for part of Du Pont's acrylic business and a cash settlement.

The merger is difficult because it would give Du Pont about 43 per cent of the market. This does not put it de facto in a dominant position - but it is hard to separate nylon from general fibres, and the overlap of research and development is sensitive.

Originally, the sale of some ICI fibre capacity to a third party was mooted - but the final arrangement is less radical.