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Borden plans to buy part of Corning

March 02, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

Borden plans to buy part of Corning

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Nearly 10 months after announcing plans to sell its consumer products company, Corning Inc., appears to have found a buyer in Borden, Inc.

Monica Ott, spokeswoman at the company's Corning, N.Y., headquarters, said she doesn't anticipate any layoffs at the Martinsburg or Greencastle, Pa., plants because of the acquisition.

"We had certain negotiation objectives - making sure the employer would recognize the current union, assume the current contract and for salaried employees, receive similar benefits and wages," Ott said.

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Corning announced the $603 million transaction agreement Monday. The deal is expected to be finalized within a month.

A purchase agreement with AEA Investors Inc. fell through on Dec. 10.

Corning will retain an 8 percent interest in Corning Consumer Products Company.

The distribution center in Greencastle employs about 450 people. The Martinsburg plant, which makes Visions and Corning Ware cookware, has about 375 employees, Ott said.

Borden will assume ownership of the consumer products division, but Peter F. Campanella, the president and chief executive officer of the consumer products division, will remain president and sit on the board of directors after the acquisition is finalized.

The name Corning Consumer Products will remain the same for now. Borden has three years to change it, Ott said.

The consumer products division of Corning, Inc., also makes Revere Ware, Pyrex and Corelle cookware.

Other divisions make optical fiber, cable and other communications-related products, which was the reason for the sale. Corning wants to focus on that fast-growing industry, Ott said.

Cookware is a new avenue for Borden, which is probably best known for its food products - bouillon cubes, pasta sauce, soup mixes and snacks. It also produces adhesives, resins, formaldehyde and other industrial chemicals.

"This acquisition gives us the opportunity to add a new platform," said Lynn Anderson, Borden's manager of corporate communications at the main office in Columbus, Ohio.

"For us, this was an attractive business because of the valuable brand names and the opportunities that exist for growth," Anderson said.

Anderson said there is no talk of layoffs at the local plants now. In fact, the company intends to invest in the brand name and launch new products, she said.

Any layoff decisions would come through Campanella, and employees would get word first, she said.

Borden employs about 13,000 people; Corning employs 5,500.

The personnel office at Corning Glass in Greencastle referred all questions to the company headquarters and would not release the name of its union representative.

The Martinsburg union representative and plant manager could not be reached for comment.

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