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Manville Says Stage Is Set for Comeback : Firm Will Have $1 Billion to Spend on Acquisitions

From Reuters

Manville Corp., the building materials company ready to emerge from bankruptcy, will come out of Chapter 11 ready to swing out against competitors with $1 billion to spend on acquisitions and new ideas, company officials said Tuesday.

“The competition is feeling it in the marketplace with Manville coming back,” W. Thomas Stephens, president and chief executive, told New York analysts.

He said Manville would be looking to buy companies that would complement its existing businesses, but would not give any specific names.

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince,” Stephens said. “You can’t get emotional and pay too much.”

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Positive Feelings

Stephens and other Manville executives were in New York to hold the first of a round of formal meetings across the country to tell the financial community about its strategic objectives.

Analysts came away from the meeting with positive feelings about Manville.

“I believe what Tom Stephens said this morning. It is a company gearing itself for growth,” said Stephen Dobi, a Solomon Bros. analyst who follows Manville.

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“I felt the company looked very solid as an operating company. They indicated that they had plenty of cash for acquisitions,” said another analyst.

Analysts said they believed that Manville will buy small companies to support the company’s existing core businesses.

Tuesday’s meeting follows the Supreme Court’s refusal early this month to hear the remaining appeal against Manville’s reorganization plan, paving the way for the building materials and forest products company to end its six-year term in bankruptcy.

Although the appellant has until Oct. 28 to ask the nation’s highest court to reconsider its decision, Manville is optimistic that no such step will be taken.


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