Valspar has announced plans to acquire Lilly Industries.

MINNEAPOLIS — In a major coatings-industry transaction that will significantly expand The Valspar Corp.’s position in the industrial-coatings market, the Minneapolis-based company has announced plans to acquire Lilly Industries Inc. Lilly, based in Indianapolis, is a major manufacturer of industrial coatings for wood, metal and other applications.

Under terms of the agreement, Valspar will acquire all of Lilly’s outstanding shares for $31.75 per share. The total value of the transaction is approximately $975 million, including the assumption of $213 million in debt. The agreement has been approved by the two companies’ boards of directors, and is expected to be completed by the end of the year, pending regulatory and shareholder approvals.

The purchase price represents a significant premium, based on Lilly’s recent share price. But Valspar Chairman, President and CEO Richard M. Rompala was quoted as saying that he expects the merger to provide significant cost savings and synergies. He said the acquisition will combine two companies that are “an extraordinarily good business fit, with their complementary technologies and global technical, manufacturing and customer-support capabilities.” Lilly Chairman and CEO Douglas W. Huemme said the deal will provide “a terrific result for our company, its shareholders and employees.”

With the acquisition, Valspar would have annual revenues of approximately $2.25 billion, with approximately 20% of its sales generated outside the United States. The company has pursued an aggressive acquisition strategy over the last five years, with deals that include last year’s purchase of Dexter Corp.’s packaging-coatings business. Valspar, one of the 10 biggest coatings companies worldwide, reported 1999 sales of $1.4 billion. The company manufactures a range of architectural, automotive-refinish, industrial, and specialty coatings, and also is a supplier of resins and colorants. Valspar operates 39 manufacturing plants worldwide, and has a global work force of 4,600 employees.

Lilly reported 1999 sales of $656 million, and also has expanded through acquisitions to become one of the five largest manufacturers of industrial coatings in North America. The company’s product portfolio includes wood coatings for furniture, building products and kitchen cabinets; metal coatings for building products, appliances, and agricultural and construction equipment; and composites and glass coatings for the marine, transportation, and mirror industries. The company has 2,500 employees and 26 manufacturing plants worldwide.