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Redland to sell part of Md. Genstar English China Clays PLC to buy calcium carbonate business for $39 million


The British parent of Genstar Stone Products Co., Redland PLC, announced yesterday that it is selling the Maryland company's calcium carbonate business for $39 million in cash to English China Clays PLC, a London-based company that has other U.S. calcium carbonate operations.

The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The Genstar division that mines calcium carbonate -- a mineral used as a whitener in papers and paints -- has 132 workers and $18 million in sales. It represents about 12 percent of the Hunt Valley-based Genstar's operations, which have 1,000 workers in Maryland and Virginia and about $150 million in annual sales, according to Donald E. Bowman, Genstar's executive vice president.

English China expects to retain a "substantial number of the the workers," according to a company spokeswoman. And the division will operate as the company's northeast regional base, separate from English China's other calcium carbonate operations in Alabama and Wisconsin, according to Peter M. Elliott, English China's corporate secretary.

"This is a self-standing operation, at some distance from our other operations," Mr. Elliott said. "It is in a sense an independent operation."

Under the sales agreement, the new English China operation will mine calcium carbonate at Genstar's 700-acre quarry near Cockeysville even as Genstar continues aggregate production there.

Redland, Genstar's London-based parent, said it is selling the operation because it does not fit into its core business of aggregates -- gravel and stones -- and other building materials.

"It's not Genstar's core specialty, nor indeed Redland's," said Paul Hewitt, Redland's financial director. "China Clay is really better at that."

The sale will not affect Genstar's other operations, Mr. Bowman said. Genstar is the state's largest aggregate company with six quarries -- five in Maryland and one in Virginia -- a ready mix concrete plant and an asphalt operation.

Redland PLC, which bought Genstar for about $150 million in 1986, is an international construction materials company that had revenues of about $4 billion last year.

English China is a worldwide specialty minerals and chemical company with operations primarily in Europe and the United States. It had sales of $1.3 billion last year.

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