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The Federal Trade Commission sued Monday to block Libbey Inc.’s $332 million acquisition of the Anchor Hocking unit of Newell Rubbermaid Inc., ending efforts to resolve the antitrust dispute without litigation. The FTC authorized the suit Dec. 18, but agreed to a request from Toledo, Ohio-based Libbey not to file the complaint until both parties tried again to settle. The FTC extended the settlement deadline twice, but the parties could not agree on a consent decree. The suit charges that the merger would harm competition for soda-lime glassware used by restaurants. Libbey is the No. 1 producer of soda-lime glassware while Lancaster, Ohio-based Anchor Hocking is No. 3. The FTC said Anchor Hocking is especially key to keeping down prices for glassware because it makes imitations of Libbey products. This means a restaurant has two options for replacement glassware. Without Anchor, Libbey could raise prices because few restaurants would buy all new glassware rather than pay modestly more for replacements. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton in Washington, D.C. Libbey chief financial officer Kenneth Wilkes did not return a call for comment. Libbey agreed June 18 to acquire Anchor in an all-cash transaction. The deal was for approximately 1.5 times Anchor’s net sales for the 12 months ending March 31 and 6.1 times EBITDA for the same period. Copyright (c)2002 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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