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American Standard sells bath and kitchen business

BY HBSDEALER Staff

American Standard has found a buyer for its bath and kitchen business: Bain Capital Parnters, who has agreed to buy the group for $1.755 billion.

Bain Capital Partners is a global private investment firm — most recently, Bain Capital was one of four private investment firms to purchase Home Depot’s HD Supply unit.

Upon completion of the sale, Bain Capital will acquire all of American Standard’s bath and kitchen business, which had 2006 sales of $2.4 billion. The business manufactures and markets products under brand names including American Standard, Ideal Standard, Armitage Shanks, Porcher and Jado.

The sale closing is expected to occur early in the fourth quarter. American Standard said it will use proceeds of the sale primarily to repurchase common stock and reduce debt.

Earlier this year, American Standard announced its plans to separate its three business by selling bath and kitchen, spinning off its vehicle control systems business and retaining its largest business, in air conditioning systems and services. Following the spinoff and the sale, American Standard Cos. will change its name to Trane.

“This is a major milestone in our plan to separate American Standard into three focused, better understood companies,” said Fred Poses, American Standard chairman and CEO. “We believe that Bain Capital’s all-cash offer provides excellent value for our shareowners.”

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PPG to acquire Barloworld Coatings Australia

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Australian subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based PPG will acquire Barloworld Coatings Australia, the architectural paint unit of South Africa-based Barloworld Coatings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Barloworld is a leading manufacturer of architectural and decorative paints in Australia, with brands including Taubmans, Bristol and White Knight. The company also operates production facilities in Villawood, New South Wales; and Glen Waverly, Victoria.

Barloworld’s plant in Glen Waverley will not be acquired by PPG but will continue to manufacture Barloworld brand products for PPG until production and distribution activities are transferred to other locations, PPG said in a statement.

Barloworld also distributes products through 85 company-owned stores, a network of distributors and numerous independent retailers. The paints are also sold through Bunnings, one of Australia’s largest home improvement retailers.

“We are continuing to accelerate our profitable growth in coatings by making strategic acquisitions,” said J. Rich Alexander, senior vp-coatings for PPG. “The Barloworld coatings brands are well-respected in Australia. By acquiring Barloworld’s Australian coatings business, we’ll be well-positioned to be the leading coatings manufacturer operating in all market segments and channels in Australia.”

In 2006, PPG acquired Protec, an Adelaide, Australia-based manufacturer and distributor of automotive refinish coatings and light industrial and high-performance coatings. Also in 2006, PPG acquired the Performance Coatings and Finishes business of Ameron International of Pasadena, Calif., which also has operations in Australia and New Zealand.

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British Columbia forestry workers go on strike

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Around 6,500 members of Canada’s Wood Council of the United Steelworkers union (USW) have gone on strike in British Columbia.

The strike began at midnight on Friday, idling more than 30 forest companies, according to news reports.

At issue is a request by the USW to restrict wood product companies’ abilities to schedule some working shifts up to 12 hours long. Additionally, the union is arguing for better severance pay for partial mill closures.

“The industry is badly fragmented and is unable to reach common ground with our union on the fundamental issues affecting our members,” said Steve Hunt, director of USW Western Canada.

The union is striking against several companies, many represented by the bargaining group Forest Industrial Relations (FIR). Around 4,500 unionized workers are employed by FIR’s client companies.

“We have bargained in good faith, and the union has been effective in achieving many of its goals,” said Terry Lineker, president and CEO of FIR. “However, given the market pressures we face, we will not offer more because any further decline in our competitive position will severely damage the industry.”

FIR members include West Fraser Mills and Western Forest Products.

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