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Cooper: Athens, Ga., plant will close in approximately three months

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. plans to close its manufacturing facility in Athens, Ga., "in approximately two to three months."

According to its 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company is closing the plant because its production can be absorbed by other Cooper facilities.

The plant, which employed 140 workers, produces retread products and some racing tires. Cooper estimates that the total costs incurred in

connection with this action will be approximately $11 million to $15

million on a pre-tax basis and will be spread primarily over the

remaining three quarters of fiscal year 2006.

These costs represent one-time employee related costs, site closure costs and asset write-offs, adds the company.

Cooper began producing racing tires -- at a cost of $11 million -- at its Georgia retread materials plant in early 2005. Initial production included the Avon Tech R, a street-legal radial built by Cooper exclusively for The Tire Rack, and a Mickey Thompson brand street tire.

Cooper acquired the Athens plant in 1999 as part of its Oliver Retreading Systems purchase.

Cooper Tire runs four tire manufacturing facilities in the United States. Its Findlay, Ohio, Texarkana, Ark., Tupelo, Miss., and Albany, Ga., plants have the capacity to produce 126,400 consumer tires a day, according to Modern Tire Dealer's 2006 Facts Issue.

The company's stock price on the New York Stock Exchange closed at $12.99 a share on Monday, May 8. That compares to a 52-week high and low of $21 and $12.15, respectively.

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