Monsanto Co. agreed to sell its Azusa-based Orcolite eyeglass lens unit to BMC Industries Inc. for $100 million in cash, part of its move to emphasize its agricultural, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and nutrition businesses. BMC, a Minneapolis-based maker of eyeglass lenses and aperture masks for picture tubes for televisions and computer monitors, will make Orcolite part of its ophthalmic lens business. Orcolite had estimated 1997 sales of $34 million. Monsanto, based in St. Louis, has already shed its chemical units and said earlier this year that it wants to dispose of products that do not relate to its life sciences business. It also plans to sell its Solaris unit, which makes lawn and garden products. The Orcolite purchase is expected to be completed in the second quarter. Monsanto said the unit's 285 workers will be given the chance to continue their employment with BMC. In New York Stock Exchange trading, BMC shares fell 31 cents to close at $20.69, and Monsanto shares declined 44 cents to $51.31.
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