In another expected industry consolidation, Hercules Inc. has signed a letter of intent to sell its composite products division to Fiberite Inc. for $135 million. Hercules announced the deal Dec. 21 and expects it to close in 1996's first quarter.
The division employs 470 and generates annual sales of about $100 million. It has preimpregnated material and graphite fiber operations in Magna, Utah; a prepreg unit in Parla, Spain; a polyacrylonitrile precursor plant in Decatur, Ala.; and a research and corporate facility in Wilmington, Del.
Fiberite, a holder of about 40 percent of the U.S. market for prepreg, will gain access to carbon fiber and precursor production that it needs for aerospace, sportings goods, indus-trial and infrastructure markets.
Hercules invested heavily in opening the Alabama facility in 1990, but the aerospace industry's slowdown prevented the plant from reaching expected production levels of PAN precursor.
Hercules uses the precursor in making graphite fiber in Magna.
The acquisition marks the first major move by Fiberite's new owners. A partnership of DLJ Merchant Banking of New York, and Carlisle Enterprises LP of La Jolla, Calif., acquired Fiberite from Imperial Chemical Industries plc of London, on Oct. 6 for about $115 million.
Tempe, Ariz.-based Fiberite employs 750 and makes continuous-fiber thermoset and thermoplastic advanced composite materials and thermoset chopped-fiber molding compounds.
Wilmington, Del.-based Hercules has been shedding assets to focus on its chemical specialty products.
The company employs 8,000 and operates 45 chemical manufacturing plants around the world.
In a transaction that closed last March, Hercules sold its aerospace business including composite structures and propulsion systems to Alliant Techsystems for $440 million. Hercules retained a 30 percent ownership interest.