CORNING, N.Y., Feb. 15 -- Corning Inc. has agreed to purchase NetOptix Corp., a Sturbridge, Mass.-based manufacturer of thin-film filters for use in dense wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) components, for approximately $2 billion in stock. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2000, pending regulatory approvals and a vote by NetOptix shareholders.Corning also announced that it has formed an equity venture with Samsung Electronics to package thin-film filters for use in dense WDM components employed in telecommunications systems. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The new venture, called Samsung Corning Micro-Optics, will be housed in an existing Samsung facility near Seoul in Suwon, South Korea. Corning said that it expects to supply Samsung Corning Micro-Optics with thin-film optical filters from a NetOptix subsidiary.Roger G. Ackerman, Corning's chairman and CEO, said that the company intends to continue to strengthen its position in optical communications. Market demand for optical networking products is expanding at an incredible rate, Ackerman said. The market for dense WDM components, in particular, will double this year. The acquisition of NetOptix will help Corning capitalize on this growing market opportunity. Ackerman added, NetOptix's filter coating technology and the unique enhancements they've made to their manufacturing processes have enabled them to achieve significant productivity and yield levels. When we combine NetOptix's output with that from our Marlborough operation we will have greatly increased our thin-film filter capacity. These filters will feed Samsung Corning Micro-Optics, a company tooled with revolutionary robotics and automation to mass-produce packaged dense WDM components. The combination of greater capacity and automated production will greatly enhance Corning's ability to serve the needs of our customers.