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Halliburton Agrees to Asbestos Settlement

December 12, 2002|From Bloomberg News

Halliburton Co. agreed to pay as much as $4.2 billion in cash and stock to settle asbestos-related claims against several current and former units and wipe out future asbestos liability, plaintiffs lawyers say.

The world's second-largest oil-services company will pay $2.75 billion in cash and issue $1.4 billion in stock to compensate workers and others for health problems tied to asbestos, said Peter Kraus, a lawyer for asbestos claimants in the Harbison-Walker Refractories bankruptcy case. The unit was formerly owned by Halliburton's Dresser Industries subsidiary.

The settlement allows Halliburton to avoid a bankruptcy filing and create a trust to pay its asbestos liability as part of Harbison's Chapter 11 case, Kraus said. Asbestos suits have forced 20 companies to file for bankruptcy protection since January 2000, including Owens Corning and Federal-Mogul Corp., and may cost U.S. businesses more than $200 billion, consulting firm Towers Perrin estimates.

"They are buying peace from asbestos litigation for all time," Kraus said.

Halliburton said in a statement that the postponement was requested by creditors in the Harbison bankruptcy case. Company spokeswoman Wendy Hall declined to comment further on the case.

Shares of Houston-based Halliburton on Wednesday rose 57 cents to $20.40 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Halliburton has predicted that its asbestos litigation expenses will reach $2.2 billion by 2017. Asbestos, used as an insulating and fireproofing material until the 1980s, has been tied to lung cancer.

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