PHILADELPHIA - Rohm and Haas Co. announced an agreement to sell the industrial coatings business that was formerly a part of Morton International Inc. to BASF AG for $175 million. Rohm and Haas acquired Morton Industrial Coatings in June 1999 as part of a $4.9-billion acquisition of Morton International. Sales for the industrial-coatings business were approximately $155 million for fiscal 1998.

The business operates five manufacturing sites in North America, at Batavia, IL; Chicopee, MA; Colton, CA; Decatur, AL; and Orrville, OH, and employs more than 500 people. Rohm and Haas said it will retain industrial-coatings businesses that were not a part of the Morton International acquisition.

The acquisition will significantly boost BASF's presence in the coil-coatings industry, said Klaus Peter Loebbe, head of BASF Group's Coatings Division. He said that with the transaction, "We are taking the decisive step to be a world leader in coil coatings, a technology of the future." Jim Kendall, a Rohm and Haas VP who heads the Morton Industrial Coatings business, said the acquisition by BASF will help the business expand its markets and technologies on a worldwide basis.

The acquisition is the second recent move made by BASF's coatings division to expand its coil-coatings portfolio. The company last September acquired the coil-coatings business of Norsk Hydro ASA of Norway, boosting BASF Coatings' technological and regional presence in the coil sector.