Bloomberg News

EU Extends Antitrust Review of Cookson's Foseco Bid

February 14, 2008

The European Union extended its antitrust review of the bid by Cookson Group Plc (CKSN)'s proposed buy of Foseco Plc after Cookson offered to sell a Foseco unit.

The European Commission, the 27-nation EU's antitrust regulator in Brussels, said in a statement today it extended the review by 10 working days to March 4. A decision had been scheduled for Feb. 19.

Cookson, the world's biggest maker of ceramic linings for metal smelters, on Jan. 11 said it had conditionally agreed to sell Foseco's Carbon Bonded Ceramics business to Vienna-based RHI AG (RHI) to ``expedite antitrust clearances.''

The 495-million pound ($974 million) acquisition would add 29 plants in 17 countries, including Russia, Poland and Turkey. Supplying fire-proof casings for molten steel has become Cookson's most profitable business as Chinese and Ukrainian makers move to producing high-grade steels used in automaking from lower-quality construction steel.

London-based Cookson, which returned to profit in 2006 after five years of losses, is moving production from the U.K. to plants in Poland, Mexico and China, where employment costs are lower. The company is closing two U.K. factories at its precious metals division, which supplies gold chains to jewelers. Cookson also supplies coatings for electronic circuit boards. Foseco is based in Tamworth, U.K.

A spokesman for Cookson declined to comment other than to refer to the company's Jan. 11 statement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Newman in Brussels at Mnewman6@bloomberg.net; Kevin Costelloe in Brussels at kcostelloe@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net; Eddie Buckle at ebuckle@bloomberg.net.


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