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Orica Buys U.S. Firm Excel Mining for $670 Million

Australia's Orica, the world's biggest explosives maker, has agreed to buy Excel Mining Systems from U.S. private equity firm Snow Phipps Group for US$670 million, extending its reach in the booming mining services industry.

Orica said on Monday the acquisition of Excel, which makes roof support products for underground mines, would be immediately earnings per share accretive and was complementary to the UK mining services business Minova that it bought in 2006.

"The opportunity to acquire the Excel business is consistent with our strategy of growing our business close to the core in markets that we believe have a long term growth outlook," Orica Managing Director Graeme Liebelt said in a statement.

Orica said earlier this month it sees significant profit growth this year, with a global mining boom, driven largely by strong demand for minerals from China, boosting earnings at its mining services division.

Cost benefits from the Excel deal, including lower administrative costs, an improved supply chain and tax benefits, were expected to reach around US$50 million a year after three years, Orica said.

Total implementation costs would be about US$55 million, including US$25 million of capital expenditure.

The acquisition of Excel, which has annual sales of more than US$240 million and 325 employees, is subject to U.S. regulatory approval and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of calendar 2007.

The deal will be funded primarily from existing debt facilities, supplemented by an underwritten dividend reinvestment plan.