Two major electrical product manufacturers — Thomas & Betts Corp. and AFC Cable Systems Inc. — hope to combine their operations by June.
The companies submitted a draft of their joint proxy statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 19, and now are responding to comments from the SEC. They plan to hold a public shareholders' meeting to put the acquisition to a vote.
Under the agreement, Providence, R.I.-based AFC will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Thomas & Betts. Thomas & Betts will exchange 0.83 share of its common stock for each AFC share. Thomas & Betts estimates the value of the transaction at $490 million.
AFC's plastic products include flexible and rigid conduit, plastic-insulated wire and cable, and plastic fittings. The company acquired Spiraduct Inc., a Montgomeryville, Pa.-based plastic tubing company, in May 1998, and Georgia Pipe Co., a Thomasville, Ga.-based plastic pipe extruder, in November.
Jay Thomas, AFC vice president of marketing, estimates that plastics make up about 15 percent of the firm's business. AFC reported 1998 sales of $272.8 million.
Thomas said many manufacturing and distribution companies in the electrical products market are merging, which could put a squeeze on a ``medium-size'' company like AFC. He added that there is little overlap of product lines between the two companies.
With 1998 sales of $2.3 billion, Thomas & Betts of Memphis, Tenn., is a leading manufacturer of plastic cable ties and connectors. A spokeswoman at the company said injection molding is one of the firm's core functions.
Ralph Papitto, AFC chairman and chief executive officer, will be the largest individual shareholder of the combined companies, and will be nominated as a director of Thomas & Betts, the companies said.