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Corning deal canceled

December 10, 1997

Corning deal canceled

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Corning Inc. is for sale again after cancellation of a purchase agreement with AEA Investors Inc., according to an announcement made Wednesday.

But the lost deal shouldn't affect Corning plants in Greencastle and Martinsburg, W.Va., which together employ almost 1,000 workers, officials said.

"There's really no impact on the plants. It will be business as usual until we find another buyer," said Monica Ott, Corning spokeswoman.

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The New York-based investment group agreed to buy a controlling interest of Corning's consumer products division in August. It backed out of the deal because of soft sales in the housewares business in the current quarter and the potential for lost sales in 1998 due to changes in Asian currency markets, according to a statement released by Corning.

Corning's chief executive officer, Roger Ackerman, claims the company is fiscally sound and is seeing no impact now from the Pacific rim.

"Corning's consumer housewares business is very healthy, with year-to-date operating profits up over 50 percent through November, and the business' new products for 1998 have been well received by customers," Ackerman said in a written statement.

The company will pursue selling to another buyer, he said.

"This isn't the first time a deal has fallen apart. It's not the end of the world," Ott said.

The company has contacted potential buyers who were bidders in the first round with AEA Investors Inc., she said. Company officials could meet with them as early as next week, Ott said.

Corning announced in May its intention to sell its consumer products division by the end of the year. The division markets and manufactures cookware and tableware products worldwide, including Corelle, Corning Ware, Pyrex glass, Revere Ware and Visions.

The packaging and distribution center at 1200 S. Antrim Way in Greencastle, which employs about 600 people, hired more workers in the fall at the onset of holiday baking time, the company's peak season.

The plant in Martinsburg makes Corning Ware and Visions cookware and employs about 350 people.

Local employees were wary of their future when the company announced it was for sale. But many said they were relieved when it was sold to AES since they were told the company planned to honor the union's contract until it expired in 1999.

Corning's biggest and fastest-growing business is its manufacture of optical fiber, optical cable and photonic components.

AEA Investors was founded in 1969 as a private investment vehicle for wealthy industrial families such as the Rockefellers and Mellons.

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