Closing in Ohio to add jobs here

Millennium to move Cincinnati personnel to facilities in region

`Good news for Baltimore'

March 24, 2001|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Millennium Chemicals Inc., whose largest division is in Hunt Valley, said yesterday that it is closing a 40-person facility in Cincinnati and moving jobs to Maryland.

The company will take a $10 million charge in the first half of the year because of the closure, but expects to make that up in later cost savings.

"This is good news for Baltimore," said Robert E. Lee, head of Maryland operations, adding that it should mean about two dozen more jobs for the area.

A handful of positions - fewer than five - will be cut in Maryland under the restructuring. The company also laid off about 20 people here in November.

Millennium's operations in the Baltimore area produce titanium dioxide, a whitening agent used in products from paint to garbage bags to U.S. currency. In addition to its Hunt Valley headquarters, the company has a research facility in Anne Arundel County and a manufacturing plant at Hawkins Point.

It also has a plant on Broening Highway that makes cadmium, a coloring agent used in heavy-duty plastics, and silica gel, which is used to take the cloudiness out of beer.

The company, based in London and in Red Bank, N.J., employs more than 800 people here.

The titanium dioxide division will no longer be called Millennium Inorganic Chemicals. Instead, the parent company is creating two sections - Growth and Development and Operational Excellence - both of which will be operated from Hunt Valley; the titanium dioxide operations will be part of the growth segment.

Lee's title will change from president and chief executive of Millennium Inorganic to executive vice president of Growth and Development.

Mickey Foster, a spokesman for Millennium, said the company made the changes "to simplify our structure and achieve higher returns for our business."

Millennium's three divisions - titanium dioxide, acetyls and specialty chemicals - had combined net sales of $1.8 billion in 2000 and net income of $122 million.

Lee said Millennium needs to expand its titanium manufacturing capabilities, and the company has sought financing aid from the state to beef up the Hawkins Point facility. So far, he said, those talks have not been very fruitful, and it is unclear if the plant here will be expanded or if the investment will be made at one of the company's overseas facilities.

He said the additional focus on Hunt Valley doesn't affect the decision on whether the Hawkins Point facility will be upgraded.

No matter where the expansion occurs, he said, the changes could take awhile.

"In this economy," he said, "what we do not want to be doing is spending a lot of capital money with things slowing up."

Shares of Millennium closed at $16.22 yesterday, up 52 cents.

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