TRW buys another S. Korean company
CLEVELAND — Automotive supplier TRW Inc. has reached further into South Korea to purchase a producer of plastic interior and exterior products.
Cleveland-based TRW, which already has three auto plants in South Korea, signed a letter of intent Dec. 23 to buy Woo Jin Ltd. of Ulsan. The agreement must undergo regulatory approval in both countries, said TRW spokesman Jay McCaffrey. Terms were not disclosed.
Woo Jin makes a variety of molded parts, including air vents, instrument panel clusters and center consoles. The company's primary customer is Hyundai Motor Co., and it recorded about $25 million in 1997 sales, he added.
The downturn in the Korean economy gave TRW an opportunity to buy Woo Jin at an attractive price, McCaffrey said. The acquisition will give TRW access to a product line in which it now does limited work, and further entry into Asia, he added.
``There are a lot of opportunities for a company like TRW to make investments over there right now,'' McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey did not rule out the possibility that TRW will look for other acquisitions in plastics.
The company recorded 1997 sales of almost $12 billion.
SPI, APC merger discussion to continue
WASHINGTON — Negotiators for the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the American Plastics Council will continue merger talks, after holding an exploratory meeting Dec. 17.
Officials had said before the meeting that talks may not extend beyond the first meeting, but the head of SPI's delegation said Dec. 18 they will have additional meetings in January.
``It's a work in progress, at best,'' said Sid Rains, head of the SPI delegation and vice president of sales and marketing for Van Dorn Demag Corp. in Strongsville, Ohio.
APC and SPI are the industry's largest trade groups.
Rains declined to comment on specifics of the talks, and said information would come jointly from SPI President Larry Thomas and APC President Ron Yocum.
APC officials referred questions to James Harris, a senior vice president of Exxon Chemical in Houston. Harris could not be reached.
Chevron and GE Plastics settle lawsuit
HOUSTON — Chevron Corp. has settled a long-standing lawsuit against GE Plastics that had accused GE of improperly saying its Ultem resin could be used for certain high-temperature plastic venting pipe.
The two companies settled the lawsuit in mid-December, a Chevron spokesman said. Both Chevron, based in Houston, and GE Plastics, based in Pittsfield, Mass., declined to disclose details.
Four deaths in the United States linked to carbon monoxide poisoning from leaks in HTPV pipes prompted federal regulators and the industry to announce a $100 million replacement program in early 1998. Federal officials said the deaths were caused by poor installation of the furnace pipes.
Chevron's Plexco Inc. subsidiary, based in Bensenville, Ill., used GE's Ultem resin to make HTPV pipes until 1994. GE maintained that poor installation, not bad resin, was to blame. Chevron sued GE in late 1995.
CanTex to focus on electrical conduits
MINERAL WELLS, TEXAS — CanTex Inc. has ditched its water-pipe manufacturing business to focus its full attention on producing electrical conduit.
``The largest percentage of our business is conduit and conduit fittings, molded and fabricated,'' Dan Wirtanen, CanTex president and chief executive officer, said in a written statement. ``Plumbing, water and sewer products were taking away production of our electrical conduit.''
Wirtanen said the company, based in Mineral Wells, has begun marketing a new line of PVC switch and outlet boxes to complement its existing electrical products.
The privately held company does not report sales figures, but in Plastics News' June ranking of pipe, profile and tubing extruders, CanTex was tied with the Plexco Division of Chevron for the No. 17 spot, with an estimated $175 million in 1997 sales.
Wirtanen said the recent decision to exit the water-pipe business will not affect the 690 employees at the company's seven plants, which include a former Lamson & Sessions plant in Aurora, Ohio, that CanTex bought in the summer.