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 CHICAGO, Aug. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- USG signed multiple marketing and distribution agreements with two Japanese firms, Sumitomo Corp. and Nitto Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., which set the stage for a potential joint venture to manufacture fiberglass-mesh-reinforced Portland cement construction panels in Japan. USG has become one of only a few U.S. building materials manufacturers to sell a product in Japan.
 The agreements include exclusive distribution rights between Sumitomo, Tokyo, and USG for a market development program in Japan. Sumitomo will import increasing quantities of cement board over a three-year period. The product, to be sold under the trade name DURACRETE(R), is manufactured in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and is sold in the United States as DUROCK(R) multipurpose building panels. The first shipment of 55,000 square-feet of DURACRETE panels has already arrived in Japan. USG anticipates that sales of DURACRETE could exceed 5 million square-feet annually by 1996.
 Sumitomo and USG also signed a letter of intent to manufacture cement board in Japan. The two companies expect to finalize details of a joint venture agreement within a year. The creation of a partnership, in which USG seeks a substantial equity interest, will depend on the success of the market development program. Nitto Chemical, Tokyo, will be the first designated manufacturer, most likely through a plant operated by its subsidiary Nitto Gypsum Board Co., Ltd. in Hachinoha City in northern Japan.
 At the same time, USG, Sumitomo and Nitto Chemical agreed to apply for a Japanese Ministry of Construction permit to sell non-combustible building materials. Japan has some of the strictest fire codes in the world, and all products used in commercial and urban residential construction must meet fire-resistance standards and can be sold only by permission of the ministry.
 "This three-way partnership represents continued expansion of USG's international presence," said Stanley R. Sak, president and CEO, USG International, Ltd. "We will continue to reach out to global markets, adapting our superior manufacturing technologies and products to the construction industry worldwide."
 Said Michael P. Kane, vice president, Pacific Rim, USG International, "We are pleased to have reached these agreements after several years' work. The Japanese government and construction industry sought out our products, and we are confident it will exceed their performance requirements and financial expectations."
 United States Gypsum Co., a subsidiary of USG, and Gypsum Engineering Co., a subsidiary of U.S. Gypsum Co., will provide technical support to any joint manufacturing venture. U.S. Gypsum operates the California plant where DURACRETE board is produced by a cost-efficient continuous process. "USG's low-cost manufacturing talents position it among the leading building products makers worldwide and in continuous process cement board, far ahead of other products and processes," said Donald E. Roller, president and CEO, U.S. Gypsum Co.
 DURACRETE panels will be sold for interior applications, for example, as a water-damage-proof backer for ceramic tile on walls and floors. However, its main market will be exterior applications such as walls and decorative architectural elements.
 The product's competition in Japan includes masonry construction, which is subject to cracking during the seismic activity that occurs frequently in that country, and a variety of cementitious and metal panels, which require visible seams. A wall made of DURACRETE panels resists cracking and provides a smooth, monolithic appearance that can be finished in a variety of ways. The total exterior panel market in Japan is estimated to be 130 million square-meters of 1.4. billion square-feet.
 Sumitomo Corp. is a worldwide marketer and distributor of raw materials and industrial and consumer goods, including steel, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, telecommunications systems, plastics, chemicals, pulp and paper, textiles, jewelry and women's apparel.
 Nitto Gypsum Board Co., Ltd. produces and markets gypsum panels, plasters, joint compounds and joint tape.
 USG Corp. is a Fortune 250 holding company whose subsidiaries are leading manufacturers and distributors of building products including gypsum wallboard, joint compound and acoustical ceilings.
 -0- 8/23/93
 /CONTACT: USG Corporate Communications Department, 312-606-4124/

CO: USG Corp.; Nitto Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. ST: Illinois IN: CHM SU:

LG -- NY048 -- 5088 08/23/93 13:48 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 23, 1993

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