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8 buyers left in sale of Corning division

July 23, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A field of 25 potential buyers for Corning Inc.'s Consumer Products Division, which includes plants in Greencastle and Inwood, W.Va., has been winnowed down to eight contenders, a Corning spokeswoman said Tuesday.

All eight companies have headquarters in the United States, spokeswoman Monica Ott said.

Officials from the eight firms met with Corning officials at the company's corporate headquarters in Corning, N.Y., Ott said. Now they are visiting consumer division plants around the country, she said.

Corning announced in May its intention to sell the division by the end of the year, a move that will affect the jobs of more than 850 area workers. Included are 350 workers in the Inwood plant, which makes Corning and Visions cookware, and more than 500 in Greencastle, which is a distribution center for Corning's East Coast manufacturing plants.

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The consumer products division employs more than 3,000 workers worldwide, Ott said.

The division reported excellent sales for the first two quarters of 1997, she said. It did well because its employees continued to work hard in spite of their anxiety about their jobs, Ott said.

Any sale agreement must include a commitment by the buyer to continue Corning's commitment to the communities where it has plants, to pick up any existing union contracts and to maintain wages and benefits, Ott said.

"Nobody has balked at anything, although there were a lot of questions," she said.

The eight firms include companies already involved in the consumer products business that would continue Corning's lines and those that want to invest in the industry, Ott said.

"We are pleased with the level of entries we have received," Ott said.

The eight remaining contenders have already submitted non-binding bids for the division, Ott said. By mid-August, those still in the running must submit binding bids, meaning they will have to show proof that they can come up with the purchase price, Ott said.

She said a decision on the buyer will be made in late August or early September. Closing agreements will be worked out from then until sometime in December, when the sale will become final, she said.

Corning is selling its consumer products division, which makes the popular line of cookware that is synonymous with the company's name, so it can concentrate on high-growth, technology-driven businesses like fiber optics, optical cable, photonic technology and liquid crystal display cases.

The corporation is hiring workers for a new plant it is building in Corning, N.Y., Ott said. The new plant will manufacture photonic components for the optical communications network, Ott said.

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