Supply House Times

Nov. 7, 2007 - Wolverine To Discontinue U.S. Plumbing Tube Business

November 7, 2007

Wolverine Tube Inc. said it will discontinue its U.S. plumbing tube business and close two production facilities due to a decline in demand for copper plumbing, leading to job cuts.

Demand for copper plumbing tube has declined over the last several years as plastic tubes have emerged as a cheaper substitute in residential construction, the company said.

The Huntsville, AL-based company said it will cut about 40 percent of its corporate, general and administrative positions, totaling about 40 employees. It expects about $1 million in severance costs to be accrued in the current quarter related to the elimination of these positions. The company projected impairment and restructuring charge of about $72 million related to the closure of the facilities located in Decatur, AL and Booneville, MS.

The charge includes about $56 million in non-cash reduction of the carrying value of certain assets and cash charges of $16 million related to severance, other employee-related costs, plant closure and environmental expenses. Of the $16 million, $10 million is expected to be incurred in 2008 and the balance over the next five years, the company added.

The Decatur and Booneville facilities, which have 440 full-time and 50 temporary employees, primarily served the U.S. copper plumbing tube and smooth industrial tube markets.

Following the closure, the company will manage requirements for smooth tube through production from other locations and outsourcing, it added.