Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Company has agreed in principle final terms to acquire Ansell Limited's interest in their South Pacific Tyres (SPT) joint ventures, subject to government and other approvals.

Goodyear will pay its partner approximately US$40 million for its 50% ownership of the tyre manufacturer and marketer with operations in Australia and New Zealand. Goodyear will also repay approximately $50 million of outstanding loans from Ansell to SPT.

The president of Goodyear's Asia/Pacific business unit, Pierre Cohade, said the move strengthens Goodyear's position in these countries and enhances its flexibility and earnings growth prospects in the region.

"We are excited to own 100% of SPT in Australia and New Zealand and to have a leadership position in these important markets," said Cohade. "SPT is making excellent progress in its turnaround."

Formed in 1987, SPT is the leading tyre maker in Australia and New Zealand. It has 4,000 staff and annual sales of more than $700 million. Its results have been consolidated with those of Goodyear's Asia/Pacific region since January 2004.