LONDON - ICI plc has agreed to delay the sale of its 30% stake in the Huntsman International joint venture until 2003 due to financing problems encountered by venture partner Huntsman Corp.

ICI in October exercised an option to sell its stake in Huntsman International to U.S.-based Huntsman. A year ago, ICI said it would sell its stake for about $365 million.

Huntsman, the world's biggest privately held chemical company, was forced to seek a delay in the deal after it failed to obtain financing.

As part of a program to focus on specialty chemicals, ICI in 1999 sold a 70% stake in its polyurethanes, titanium dioxide and petrochemicals businesses to Huntsman. Huntsman used the assets to form Huntsman International in line with a strategy aimed at expansion in Europe. But slowing economies and the subsequent impact on the chemical sector have put a squeeze on the company's finances, according to published news reports.