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Corning denies report that it will sell Corning Asahi Video

18 February 1999: A published report that US-based Corning, Inc. plans to end ties with Corning Asahi Video and sell the television glass manufacturer is untrue, company officials said.
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18 February 1999: A published report that US-based Corning, Inc. plans to end ties with Corning Asahi Video and sell the television glass manufacturer is untrue, company officials said. According to a recent report, CAV President and CEO Cliff Smith said Corning President Roger Ackerman was “grossly misquoted” in a story which ran recently in an on-line magazine, Forbes Digital Tool. “It was the author“s statement that Corning Asahi Video is on the auction block and not Roger“s,” said Smith from Corning, NY. “He didn“t make that statement, and he has demanded a retraction.” The top private employer in Centre County, Corning Asahi Video employs about 1,100. Plant general manager Ron Kovalcin said he spent a lot of time calming down employees who had heard the “auction block” comment. But Forbes reporter Vicki Contavespi said she stood by the story. “It was my conclusion the company is expected to be sold, but my statement was based on information I received from analysts as well as from Ackerman,” she said. Ackerman could not be reached for comment. The question comes in the midst of discussions between Corning and Japan-based Asahi about the future of Corning Asahi Video. Corning has a 51% ownership in the company, while Asahi has a 49% share. The partnership was created in October 1988 as part of a 25-year agreement. But as part of the agreement, the two companies were obliged after 10 years to “open a dialogue to see if there is a better way to manage the business,” Smith said. That dialogue began in October and still continues. Corning has said if given the right set of conditions – if it“s good for the corporation and for the employees – it would be willing to sell its share to Asahi, Smith said. But so far, Asahi has not said whether it is interested, Smith added. Smith said it is unknown what Corning will do if Asahi decides it likes the status quo, but Corning“s choices include doing nothing. In his comments to Forbes, Ackerman said Corning intends to concentrate its business strategy on its high growth, high tech telecommunications products. Businesses within the corporation which do not post high growth would probably be sold, Ackerman was quoted as saying. But just because Corning Asahi Video does not have the high growth rate of some other businesses “doesn“t mean we“re a throw away,” Smith said. “We just got an award from the company for doing a good job.” Like Corning, Asahi has other interests than television glass manufacturing. It sought the partnership with Corning to give it a North American presence in the glass industry, Kolvacin said. Corning benefited by taking advantage of Asahi“s expertise in manufacturing panels and funnels for larger televisions, Kolvacin said. Corning Asahi Video last year posted revenues of US$ 400 million, slightly less than 10% of Corning“s annual US$ 3.7 billion in revenues. Worldwide, CAV accounts for slightly more than 2% of all sales of television glass. Domestically, it holds about a 25% market share, Kovalcin said. Its major competitor is Techniglas, owned by Japanese company, NEG. “We had a good year last year, but we have some problems this year. We“re a hurting industry,” Smith said. “There“s too much capacity in the world, and the exchange rate has hurt us. We“re working like the devil to get more business.”

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