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EDT Toys LLC making offer for Empire

DELRAY BEACH, FLA. — Toy producer Empire of Carolina Inc. identified EDT Toys LLC as the investor that could acquire control of the financially troubled Delray Beach firm.

EDT is a subsidiary of Knowledge Universe LLC, a Los Angeles company with interests in education firms, and employee training and staffing companies, Empire said April 9.

EDT has a letter of intent to buy $50 million worth of convertible stock and debentures that it could change into a majority of Empire's common stock. EDT is doing due diligence on the deal. Empire hopes to complete the deal by April 30, when it needs to pay $6 million under a senior loan agreement.

Empire said Tom Kalinske, Knowledge's president, would become Empire's chairman in the proposed deal and would co-manage Empire with Steve Geller, current chairman and chief executive officer. Kalinske held senior management positions at major toy firms, including Mattel Inc., according to Empire.

Fisher-Price lays off 75 at headquarters

EAST AURORA, N.Y. — Mattel Inc. started its global streamlining program at its Fisher-Price Inc. subsidiary's head office in East Aurora.

Fisher-Price laid off 75 workers there April 8, said Fisher-Price spokeswoman Laurie Strong. She said it was too early to know if other layoffs were imminent within her company. The layoffs occured about a month after Fisher-Price cut nearly a third of its rotomolding staff at Medina, N.Y., because of sluggish outdoor play markets. Medina's work force was cut by 72 on March 3 to 172.

Strong said her firm let go of administrative, marketing and engineering personnel at East Aurora, where it does no manufacturing. The staff there now numbers 835.

Mattel said last month it would lay off about 2,700 workers globally in a restructuring related to its purchase of Tyco Toys Inc., but it provided no details at that time. It completed the Tyco purchase March 31.

SPI, CMA to examine rail merger plan

WASHINGTON — The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the Chemical Manufacturers Association have agreed to study the proposed takeover of Conrail by CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Both Washington-based trade associations made the announcement April 7, and urged the Surface Transportation Board to give shippers the full time alloted to consider the proposal. Both CSX and Norfolk Southern have said they want to speed up the STB approval process, according to a joint SPI/CMA news release.

The two railroads released details of their plan April 8, which will have ``far-reaching consequences for shippers in both the chemical and plastics industry,'' the SPI/CMA statement said.

SPI last year opposed the merger of Union Pacific and Southern Pacific because the combined railroad did not have to divest parallel rail lines.

Conwed expanding oriented netting plant

MINNEAPOLIS — Conwed Plastics will spend $10 million to expand production of oriented plastic netting at its Athens, Ga., facility.

The company will install a Marshall & Williams Co. biaxial orienting line, extrusion equipment and ancillary machinery, according to company spokesman Tom Gardner. It also will expand floor space in the Athens project, scheduled for completion in about a year.

Conwed makes open mesh oriented netting for agricultural, construction, home furnishings, packaging and industrial markets. The company mainly extrudes and orients polypropylene, polyethylene and nylon for nettings that are widely used for their reinforcement, containment and separation properties. Orientation, achieved by stretching the fiber after extrusion, boosts dimensional stability and tensile strength.

Conwed is a subsidiary of Leucadia National Corp. of New York, which also has interests in life insurance and commerce businesses, according to Gardner. Leucadia trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

Gardner said his firm also makes netting at its Minneapolis headquarters and has a fabrication and sales operation in Boutersem, Belgium. Conwed's capacity has been strained because of global growth in netting markets. The Athens expansion is one of the largest in Conwed's 30 years of business. Officials did not provide sales figures for the company.