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3M to Buy Corning Precision Lens

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MAPLEWOOD, Minn., Nov. 12 -- 3M Co. announced today it has agreed to pay $850 million in cash for Corning Precision Lens Inc., the largest worldwide manufacturer of lens systems for rear-projection televisions.

Corning Precision Lens, based in Cincinnati, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corning Inc., based in Corning., N.Y.

3M said it believes display components represent a multibillion-dollar growth industry. Digital videodiscs, or DVDS, and high-definition televisions are driving the growth in this industry as more consumers purchase large-screen, rear-projection TVs for home theaters, the company said.

On Sept. 18, Corning Precision Lens announced plans to expand its presence in China to take advantage of this emerging market. China is the world's second largest and fastest-growing geographic market for rear projection televisions. The company, which employs approximately 1,500 people, said sales for 2002 are expected to be $260 million.

Corning vice chairman and CFO Jim Flaws said the deal is "part of an overall plan to improve our financial health as we focus on returning to profitability." He said Corning plans to use the proceeds to reduce debt and strengthen its balance sheet, including making an additional contribution to its pension plan.

3M plans to make the company a subsidiary of its optical systems division. The transaction, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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Nov 2002
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