DARBY, UK — Williams plc announced an agreement to sell its North American Paint group of four coatings-manufacturing companies in a management-buyout transaction worth $453 million. A separate agreement was made to sell coatings manufacturer Masterchem Industries Inc. to Masco Corp. of Taylor, MI.

In a leveraged buyout to be executed by a management group in conjunction with investment firm The Jordan Co. LLC of New York, Williams will sell Frazee Industries Inc., San Diego; Kwal-Howells Inc., Denver; Parker Paint Mfg. Co. Inc., Tacoma, WA; and General Paint Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia. The management group is led by Kent Child, sector president of Williams’ North American Paint group and president of Kwal-Howells. Child declined comment on the agreement pending completion of the sale, expected in June.

In a separate deal, Williams will sell Masterchem, based near St. Louis, to Masco for $260 million. Masco is a diversified manufacturer of home-improvement products, and entered the coatings market last year with the acquisition of Behr Process Corp. Behr is a producer of architectural coatings.

Frazee, Kwal-Howells, Parker Paint and General Paint are regional coatings manufacturers that reported combined 1999 sales of $358.3 million. Masterchem is a manufacturer of specialty paint and primers sold nationwide, and reported 1999 sales of $107.5 million.

Williams said the divestitures reflect its strategy of focusing on its core security-products businesses. Proceeds from the sales will be used to repay debt and for acquisitions more closely aligned with those core businesses, the company said. Williams also recently announced the sale of its Yale Security hardware businesses and its exit from the building-products market.