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Carbide to Sell Agriculture Division to Help Pay Debts

July 22, 1986|Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Union Carbide Corp. said today it is selling its agricultural division, which manufactures the deadly chemical that killed more than 2,000 people in India in 1984.

In a surprise announcement, the giant chemical company said the sale involves plants in six states and three foreign nations and will help pay corporate debts.

Spokesman Harvey Cobert said from Union Carbide's headquarters in Danbury, Conn., that Union Carbide Agricultural Products Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary, has plants at Institute, W.Va.; Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Woodbine, Ga.; Clinton, Iowa; St. Joseph and St. Louis, Mo., and Ambler, Pa.

He said the division also has affiliate facilities in Calgary, Canada; Bezier, France, and Cubatao, Brazil.

Carbide's agricultural operations suffered a severe blow in December, 1984, when methyl isocyanate leaked from the company's plant in Bhopal, India.

It was unclear from the announcement whether Carbide's interests in the Bhopal plant would be sold.

Cobert said the Institute plant, where a leak last August of aldicarb oxime and methylene chloride injured 135 people but caused no deaths, will not be closed.

The sale is the latest maneuver by Carbide following an unsuccessful takeover bid by GAF Corp., a rival, smaller chemical company.

In January, Carbide announced plans to sell its consumer products division in an effort to place more emphasis on the company's core businesses of chemicals and plastics.

In April, Carbide said it would sell $1 billion in "non-strategic assets" as part of a corporate restructuring. The company also announced plans to sell its 611-acre headquarters complex at Danbury and cut 5,200 jobs.

On July 11, Carbide completed the sale of its home and automotive products business, including the STP and Prestone consumer products, to First Brands Corp. for $800 million.

Carbide reported a $581-million loss in 1985, which company officials attributed to costs associated with closed plants and court costs, primarily from the Bhopal accident.

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