From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

Ownership of Augusta plant still not settled

Huntsman said in its earnings report the other day that it is still waiting for the European Union to sign off on its acquisition of Rockwood’s pigment division.

 

So, as the Rockwood pigment plant continues to go up near the airport, it still belongs to them until the ownership changes hands after all the red tape.

 

The U.S. has already said it is OK with the buyout.

 

Huntsman officials believe the hurdle in Europe will be crossed sometime in the third quarter, which has August and September remaining.

 

February is the targeted starting date for the Augusta facility, which will make synthetic colorants used in construction, coatings, concrete and plastics.

 

Huntsman, a chemical-maker based in Utah, has a big check to write to get the Rockwood business units: $1.1 billion.

 

TWITTER IS A FLUTTER: News nuggets for the week:

  • Hiring is underway for the new #Augusta Gander Mountain outdoors store, with September opening. 
  • First Bank of Georgia parent has second-quarter profit of $963,000, lowered by State Bank merger charges. 
  • Atlantic Broadband announced Wednesday that its free, high-speed Wi-Fi service in downtown #Aiken is now operating. 
  • UGA President Jere Morehead visiting #Augusta business to tout university’s econ development efforts.

 

ECONOMY BY THE BOOK: The Federal Reserve bank district covering our area said its contacts indicated expanding economic activity in June and early July. “The outlook among businesses remained positive as most anticipate higher growth in the near term.”

  • Strength in residential real estate sales is having a positive impact on furniture stores and other retailers in high-growth areas across the region. 
  • Reports on tourism and business travel remained positive. Activity in Georgia and Florida was strong, with high occupancy numbers at local hotels and resorts. 
  • Demand for commercial real estate continued to improve across most of the region. Absorption rates remained positive. 
  • Manufacturers told the Fed in Atlanta their pace of growth has not slowed. New orders and production continued to increase. 
  • Payrolls continued to expand in June and early July, but at a slow pace. Wage growth remained in the 2-3 percent range, with the exception of some high-skill, low-supply fields.

 

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