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OC to acquire part of Helsinki-based firm

Purchase will expand its presence in Europe

Owens Corning announced plans Thursday to acquire part of a Helsinki-based firm that manufactures fiber-glass composite materials.

The $79.5-million deal with Ahlstrom will provide Toledo-based OC two factories in Finland and a third in Russia, as well as an established supply base across northern Europe.

“This is a highly complementary acquisition that will provide new revenue, technology, talent, and access to markets,” Arnaud Genis, group president of OC’s composites business, said in a statement.

The three Ahlstrom facilities OC agreed to purchase employ about 260 people, the company said. Two of the plants make fiber-glass flooring components while the other makes glass fabrics used primarily in the wind energy market.

Together, the business segment brought Ahlstrom sales of about $85 million in 2014.

The move comes just three days after OC finalized a licensing and manufacturing agreement with Shandong Fiberglass Group Co. in China to produce fiber-glass components for the thermoplastics industry.

OC officials say China is one of the world’s faster growing markets for fiber-glass composites.

Though OC is best known by consumers for its insulation, composites make up a little more than one-third of the company’s annual revenue. In 2014, the composite business generated sales of $1.9 billion, a 5 percent increase over 2013.

Composites can either be woven, in which glass fibers are interlaced, or nonwoven, in which glass fibers are bonded together.

In addition to its international moves, OC is preparing to open a new, $130-million factory in Gastonia, N.C., that will make composite fiberglass for carpet tile, ceiling tile, gypsum, and cushion vinyl flooring.

The company expects the location to employ about 100 people by the end of the year.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.

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