PARSIPPANY, N.J. (Nov. 20)—What began as an acquisition of a carbon black operation in early 2001 has turned into a joint venture. Degussa Corp. and Ameripol Synpol Corp. subsidiary Engineered Carbons Inc. tentatively have agreed to combine their North American carbon black businesses. The 50-50 venture is slated to begin operating on Jan. 1, 2002, under the name Degussa Engineered Carbons L.P., a Degussa spokesman said—a company an industry analyst said will be the second-largest carbon black producer in North America. The joint venture company will be based in Parsippany, where Degussa's North American operation is headquartered, the Degussa official said. Degussa Engineered Carbons will operate six plants in the U.S., three from ECI and three from Degussa. A letter of intent signed by the management board of Degussa and the ECI board of directors calls for the creation of a six-member board—three from each company—to run the business. In addition, an exclusive agreement gives the Advanced Fillers & Pigments business unit of Degussa the responsibility for marketing and sales.