www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-grace-share-buyback-20140204,0,6767551.story

baltimoresun.com

W.R. Grace plans $500 million stock buyback

By Natalie Sherman, The Baltimore Sun

6:01 PM EST, February 4, 2014

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One day after emerging from bankruptcy, W.R. Grace & Co. announced that it may repurchase up to $500 million in stock over the next one to two years.

The Columbia-based chemical maker ended a 13-year bankruptcy reorganization Monday, paying off all its debts and setting aside more than $4 billion in trusts to cover its asbestos liabilities.

"This program demonstrates our commitment to increasing long-term shareholder value," said Fred Festa, Grace's chairman and CEO. "Our strong balance sheet and cash flow provide the financial flexibility both to invest in growth and return capital to shareholders."

Buybacks, which reduce the pool of shares in the market, can push up a stock's value. The company said timing of the buybacks will depend on the price of the shares and other factors.

Grace shares surged 4 percent to close Tuesday at $96.02 each.

The company, with about $3.2 billion a year in sales, employs 6,500 people worldwide and nearly 1,100 in Maryland.

nsherman@baltsun.com