ARNHEM, The Netherlands - Akzo Nobel said it plans to sell its Nordic general industrial coatings operations to Finland-based Kemira, with completion of the sale expected by the end of the year, pending regulatory approvals.

Manufacturing will be transferred within 18 months from Akzo Nobel's sites in Malmi, Sweden, and Wloclawek, Poland, to Kemira's coatings-manufacturing facilities, Akzo Nobel said. The business had 2001 sales of 17 million euros in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Poland

Rudy van der Meer, member of Akzo Nobel's Board of Management responsible for Coatings, said the Nordic business "has performed well, and has a strong market reputation," but said the business "no longer fits within our product portfolio from a strategic perspective."

The divestment follows the sale of general industrial coatings businesses in the United States and France, and reflects "our ambitious growth strategy for our core coatings activities, which will require considerable resources," Van der Meer said.