Mueller Water Closing Alabama Plant

Company said Wednesday it will close an iron pipe-manufacturing plant in Alabama by March 31, eliminating 260 jobs.

ATLANTA (AP) -- Mueller Water Products Inc. said Wednesday it will close an iron pipe-manufacturing plant in Alabama by March 31, eliminating 260 jobs.

Without the plant in North Birmingham, Ala., Mueller's U.S. Plant subsidiary will rely on production from plants in Bessemer, Ala., and Union City, Calif.

Mueller will take a restructuring charge of about $15 million, mostly in the second fiscal quarter, which ends March 31. The charge will cover $6 million to write off assets and $9 million for cash costs including severance.

The company said closing the North Birmingham plant would save between $6 million and $8 million in the current fiscal year and $20 million to $25 million a year after that.

Mueller said it had excess capacity in its plants due to the economic downturn, which weakened demand for iron and steel products.

In 2008, Mueller built a facility next to its Bessemer plant that uses a new automated pipe-making process that increases production and cuts costs.

In morning trading, shares of Mueller Water rose 66 cents, or 14 percent, to $5.34.

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