The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW - news), through its business unit, Dow Automotive, has reached an agreement with Gurit-Heberlein AG to acquire the 50 percent interest in Gurit-Essex AG that it does not currently own.

Gurit-Essex is the largest European supplier of automotive adhesives, sealants and body engineered systems for the automotive OEM and aftermarket. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Gurit-Essex was formed more than 30 years ago as a joint venture between Gurit-Heberlein and Essex Chemical Company Inc. to supply structural adhesives for glass bonding to the regional automotive industry in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and countries of the former Soviet Union. In 1988, The Dow Chemical Company purchased Essex Chemical, and therefore became a 50/50 partner with Gurit-Heberlein in the Gurit-Essex organization.

"This agreement will strengthen our relationships with Dow Automotive's global customers and will afford a significant growth opportunity for us," said Larry Denton, Dow Automotive president. "We're excited to be able to offer customers the combined resources, products and personnel of the new organization -- and look forward to the opportunity to increase the visibility of Dow Automotive on a global scale."

The acquisition will globalize Dow Automotive's product availability, and double the company's adhesives, sealants and body engineered systems business.

Additionally, the acquisition will enhance Dow Automotive's technology offering, combining engineering capabilities and innovative solutions to customers on a global scale.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of first quarter, 2001, pending regulatory approvals.

Gurit-Heberlein is headquartered in Wattwil, Switzerland. Gurit-Essex has nine sales and manufacturing offices in seven countries -- France, Germany, Italy, Romania, South Africa, Spain and The United Kingdom. Upon approval of the agreement, the company's operations will be integrated into Dow Automotive's global business. Additional information regarding Gurit-Essex's products and services can be found at Additional information regarding Gurit-Heberlein can be found at

Dow Automotive, with offices and application development centers worldwide, offers materials, parts, modules and systems for automotive interior, exterior, chassis/powertrain and body engineered systems applications. In addition to the company's broad product portfolio, Dow Automotive delivers research and development, design expertise, advanced engineering and supply chain management support to customers around the world. Additional information regarding Dow Automotive products and services can be found at .