Ciner Said to Hire Deutsche to Weigh Soda Ash Stake Options

Ciner Group, the majority owner of Turkish natural soda-ash producer Eti Soda AS, hired Deutsche Bank AG to study options for the unit including a possible stake sale, three people familiar with the matter said.

Ciner, an Istanbul-based conglomerate with interests in mining, media and energy, may decide to sell part of its controlling stake in Eti Soda, said the people, who declined to be identified because the process is confidential. The unit has sales of about $250 million a year, the people said.

Ciner owns 74 percent of Eti Soda, based in Beypazari, west of Ankara, and the remainder is held by state-owned miner Eti Maden Isletmeleri Genel Mudurlugu, according to Eti Maden’s website. Ciner’s options don’t include any sale of Eti Maden’s portion, the people said. Under a shareholders’ agreement, Ciner must offer Eti Maden the opportunity to buy any stake it wants to sell, they said.

The asset includes future operations at a soda ash production plant to be built near Kazan at a site the group took over in 2011 from Rio Tinto Plc, the world’s third-largest mining company, the people said. Ciner may use proceeds from a sale for energy investments in Turkey and spending on the Kazan plant. The company may invest about $1 billion over four years in the facility, one of the people said.

Gursel Usta, chief executive officer of Eti Soda, declined to comment, as did Deutsche Bank spokeswoman Libby Young.

Industrial Use

Soda ash is used in the making of glass, chemicals, paper, detergent and other industrial products. Eti Soda began operations in 2009 after a $375 million investment by shareholders and has a production capacity of 1.1 million tons a year, according to its website.

The soda ash miner aims to reach a capacity of as much as 4.5 million tons by 2016 after investments in the Beypazari and Kazan sites are completed, Kamil Akar, general manager of Eti Soda, said today at a soda ash conference organized by IHS Inc. in Istanbul.

Eti Soda exports about 90 percent of its output, according to its website. Ciner’s Kazan site has licenses for reserves of 1.65 billion metric tons of soda ash.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, has a strategic partnership with Ciner Group in Turkish media through Bloomberg HT television.

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