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Rohm&Haas sells automotive-paint unit

Rohm&Haas Co., the chemical company based in Center City, has agreed to sell its North American automotive-paint division to Nippon Paint Co. of Japan.

Nippon will pay about $230 million, with the final price 'subject to adjustment, Rohm&Haas said.

Rohm&Haas acquired the business when it bought Morton International Inc. in 1999. Nippon had formed a partnership with Morton, starting in the 1970s, to develop and market paints for plastic car parts at Japanese-owned car-assembly plants in Japan, the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Rohm&Haas closed at $44.82, down 21 cents, on a day chemical stocks were mixed.

The auto-paint business that is being sold employs fewer than 600 workers. Most employees work at plants near the group's headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Lansing, Ill., with a small group of sales and support workers scattered around the continent, said spokesman Carmen Ferrigno. Rohm & Haas is still looking for a buyer for its European auto-paints business.

Auto paints accounted for less than 2 percent of the company's sales last year - $109 million of the $8.7 billion total.

The company has plants in more than 100 U.S. and foreign cities, including Philadelphia-area facilities in Bridesburg, Bristol, Croydon and Spring House. Rohm&Haas main product lines are associated with two central businesses: acrylics coating, and computer-chip manufacturing processes. Auto paint wasn't strategic to the portfolio, Ferrigno said. While this transaction will not include Rohm & Haas' European auto-paint business, the company said it was looking for a buyer to purchase that division as well.


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