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Cooper plans to sell automotive division this year

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. officials told investors yesterday that the company plans to sell its Cooper Standard Automotive Group division sometime in 2004.

"We´ve had meaningful discussions" with several potential buyers, said Cooper Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo.

Proceeds from the sale would be used to buy back shares, pay down debts and other activities.

In late March, Cooper announced it was looking at possibly selling the unit, which generated $1.6 billion in revenue last year.

"We believe that Cooper Tire & Rubber may best be served by dedicating our resources to investing in our tire business and further pursuing global expansion," said Dattilo at the time.

Cooper Standard manufactures fluid handling, body sealing and vibration control systems, mainly at the original equipment level. It is headquartered in Novi, Mich.

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