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Southwest Missouri News--Joplin

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by Carol Harris, Branson area, and Mary Engler-Guccione, Joplin area

Eagle-Picher Industries Inc., one of the largest employers in the Joplin area, has agreed to be acquired by a privately held investment company from the Netherlands.

The buyer is a unit of the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO and Granaria Holdings B.V. Executives of the company will share an undisclosed percentage of ownership, said Thomas Petry, chairman and chief executive officer of Eagle-Picher.

Eagle-Picher has more than 50 manufacturing plants and 6,600 employees worldwide. Its technology division is based in Joplin, and the company has operations in southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas and northeast Oklahoma.

The company has prospered despite lawsuits resulting from its manufacture of asbestos products between 1934 and 1971. While in Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy reorganization, sales grew from $599 million in 1991 to $891 million in 1996.

A trust fund under supervision of U.S. Bankruptcy Court will receive proceeds from the sale and will continue to process claims from asbestos lawsuits.

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