ICS Magazine

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway to Buy Manville for $1.9B

December 21, 2000
New York (Reuters)- - Johns Manville Corp., a building products maker that has been searching for a buyer for nearly two years, will be acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. for $1.92 billion.

The deal comes less than two weeks after Johns Manville canceled a $2.3 billion takeover by buyout firm Hicks, Muse Tate & Furst Inc. and Bear Stearns' merchant banking unit. The companies mutually agreed to abandon that deal, which valued Johns Manville at $15.63 a share, due to weak financing markets and a softening economic outlook.

Berkshire Hathaway, which typically invests in companies it considers to be undervalued with good prospects, recently agreed to buy carpet company Shaw Industries Inc.

Johns Manville will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway and will stay headquartered in Denver. The company was nearly devastated by asbestos litigation in the 1980s and filed for bankruptcy in 1982 as it faced thousands of health-related lawsuits. While in bankruptcy, the company halted asbestos production and created a trust fund to handle all asbestos-related claims.

The 142-year-old company is now a major producer of fiberglass wall insulation and also makes other products used in roofing and flooring. It had 1999 sales of $2.2 billion, but recently warned about softness in the construction market and higher costs for raw materials and energy.