CHEMICALS group ICI has all but completed its massive three-year transformation by agreeing the sale of its industrial chemical operations for £325m.

The sale of the businesses - Chlor-Chemicals, Klea and Crosfield - had been expected to be sealed at the time of the company's third quarter trading statement last month.

The sale to privately owned chemicals group Ineos is the last major UK disposal within ICI's wholesale restructuring programme - which was prompted by its acquisition of Unilever's speciality chemicals business three years ago.

ICI has stressed that the business is being sold as a going concern and the 120 staff who work at the Teesside operations of Chlor-Chemicals will transfer to the new owners.

The new business will be known as Ineos-Chlor.

Ineos already operates the ICI acrylics business, which has a base at Billingham, which it bought for £505m in November last year.

ICI will continue to hold a 15 per cent stake in Ineos-Chlor for five years.

The group has been repositioning itself in the industrial market from a high-volume bulk chemicals business to a speciality products and paints business.

The UK jobs are based in Runcorn and Warrington in Cheshire.

Klea is a CFC replacement business, Crosfield specialises in making products derived from silica and alumina and Chlor-Chemicals is a manufacturer of chlor-alkali products and chlorine derivatives.

The businesses had combined sales of £722m and made an operating profit of £3 million in the year to December 31.

Under the terms of the deal, Ineos will pay £300m in cash immediately and a minimum of a further £25m over the next five years.

ICI chief executive Brendan O'Neill said: "The transformation of ICI is essentially complete - a colossal undertaking over the last three years.

"Following the divestments, significant earnings and cash flow volatility will be taken out of our results.

"The ICI management can now focus on converting the abundance of inherent opportunities we have into profitable growth."

lRemaining ICI businesses on Teesside include Catalyst manufacturer Synetix at Billingham, specialist chemicals business Uniqema at Wilton and trouble-shooting business Eutech. ICI also has a 50 per cent stake in the Phillips-Imperial Petroleum refinery at North Tees.