Newell Rubbermaid sells Anchor Hocking Glass

Newell Rubbermaid announced Monday that it is selling its Anchor Hocking Glass, Mirro cookware and Burnes picture frame divisions to Cerberus Capital Management for $310 million.

The sale would help Newell Rubbermaid concentrate more on its core businesses of selling plastic household storage, baby gear and cleaning products.

The federal government is unlikely to block the company's plan to sell Anchor Hocking Glass to a New York investment company that has a reputation for turning around failing businesses. Two years ago, the Federal Trade Commission stopped Newell Rubbermaid from selling the Lancaster, Ohio, company to a competitor.

This time the FTC should not object because Newell Rubbermaid is not selling Anchor to another glass business, Newell Rubbermaid spokeswoman Susan Masten said.

"Divesting nonstrategic businesses is a priority for 2004, and we are pleased to report significant progress against this initiative," Joseph Galli, Newell Rubbermaid chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Selling the three divisions is a good move because they were "widely understood to be underperformers," said Carol Warner Wilke, an analyst at Merrill Lynch in New York.

Cerberus spokesman Richard Auletta refused to comment on what the company planned to do with Anchor Hocking. But he noted that Cerberus recently has bought and is trying to revive other troubled companies, including Fila sportswear; Alamo and National car rental companies; and Formica, which makes popular kitchen-counter material.

The FTC must review the sale because it is greater than $50 million, spokesman Richard Katz said. Katz refused to comment further because a sale review is pending.

At the agency's request in 2002, a federal judge stopped Newell Rubbermaid from selling Anchor to Libbey Glass in Toledo for $277.5 million. The FTC said the sale would have created a glassware monopoly in the United States because Libbey was then the largest U.S. food-service glassware maker and Anchor Hocking the third largest with 2,000 workers.

As a result, glassware prices in the United States could have risen, federal Judge Reggie Walton said.

But the FTC likely won't object this time.

"We have every hope and expectation the acquisition will go through," Auletta said.

Newell Rubbermaid stock closed at $23.79 a share Monday, down $1.10 from Friday's close.

The company reported a net loss of $46.6 million in 2003, down from a $203.4 million loss in 2002. However, the Atlanta-based company still saw sales rise to $7.8 billion in 2003 from $7.5 billion in 2002. Newell Rubbermaid expects sales to fall 1 percent to 4 percent this year.

600450 Newell Rubbermaid sells Anchor Hocking Glass glassonweb.com

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