PPG May Start Paying Settlement Next Year

PPG Industries Inc., may start paying $450 million in the first half of 2007 as part of an asbestos settlement. PPG and at least 36 insurers agreed to a $2.7 billion settlement more than four years ago.

The accord will take effect soon after Pittsburgh Corning Corp., a 50-50 venture with Corning Inc., emerges from bankruptcy, PPG CEO Charles Bunch said Thursday at a meeting with analysts. A Pittsburgh judge overseeing the bankruptcy case expects to approve a reorganization plan by year-end, Bunch said.

PPG faces about 116,000 personal-injury claims made by people who came in contact with asbestos-laden pipe insulation once sold by Pittsburgh Corning. PPG would start funding the settlement with cash once the agreement is final, Bunch said. Four years ago, PPG reported a charge against earnings of about $500 million.

"We are close to getting a ruling on that bankruptcy," Bunch said in a recording of the meeting posted on the Pittsburgh company's Web site. "That will start an accelerated clock to get this thing settled in 2007, and hopefully in the first half."

Shares of PPG rose 16 cents to $67.97. They have gained 12 percent from a year ago.

Asbestos, a mineral used until the 1970s to add fire resistance to insulation, roofing and other building materials, has been tied to cancer and respiratory diseases. Pittsburgh Corning, beset by asbestos claims, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2000.

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