Huntsman company pays $33M to settle lawsuit

By Charles Babington

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, June 16 2011 10:34 p.m. MDT

Scenes at Huntsman Chemical's Propolene Oxide Facility in Texas. The Huntsman chemical company recently settled a $33M lawsuit.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman was a top executive of a large chemical conglomerate that is paying $33 million to settle a lawsuit alleging price-fixing.

Huntsman International LLC recently agreed to pay the money to settle a suit filed by several competitors. The lawsuit accused Huntsman International and other companies of antitrust violations by fixing the price of urethane chemicals, used in various products.

Huntsman was a top executive in the family's business conglomerate for about five of the six years covered by the lawsuit's allegations. He confirmed Tuesday that he will run for president.

Huntsman International admits no wrongdoing, but it agreed to pay $33 million "to avoid the substantial burdens and uncertainties inherent in complex business litigation," said Gary Chapman, vice president for global communications.

He said Huntsman, a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, "has not been involved in the lawsuit in any way."

Huntsman International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Huntsman Corp., which was founded by Huntsman's father, Jon Sr. The firm, which pioneered the use of plastic containers for food, has made the Huntsman family wealthy.

The younger Huntsman was vice chairman of the board of Huntsman Corp. from 1993 to 2001. He was chairman and chief executive officer of Huntsman Family Holdings Co. in 2003 and 2004.

The lawsuit alleged that Huntsman International and other defendants sought to fix urethane prices from 1999 through 2004.

Huntsman, who has campaigned in New Hampshire and elsewhere, trumpets his record as a businessman and a business-friendly governor who reduced taxes. Before agreeing to be President Barack Obama's ambassador to China, he worked for Republican administrations as a deputy assistant commerce secretary and U.S. trade ambassador.

Tim Miller, a spokesman for Huntsman's political organization, said the former governor had no knowledge of the lawsuit's settlement.

The $33 million settlement drew modest attention from a few business publications. American Bridge 21st Century, a new Democratic political group that researches Republican candidates and proposals, provided documents of the lawsuit to The Associated Press.

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