updated 1/4/2005 9:41:46 AM ET 2005-01-04T14:41:46

The battery maker Rayovac Corp. is buying privately held United Industries Corp., maker of Vigoro lawn care products, Cutter insect repellant and assorted pet supply products, for $476 million in cash and stock.

Rayovac said the deal announced Tuesday would broaden its array of household products which currently also includes shaving products and enable it to get more out of its operational expertise and existing relationships with retailers.

Under terms of the deal, Atlanta-based Rayovac would issue 13.75 million shares of its common stock and pay $70 million in cash for United Industries shares, which are not publicly traded. At Monday's closing price, the Rayovac shares would be worth $406 million.

In addition, Rayovac would assume about $880 million of St. Louis-based United Industries debt and a cash tax benefit of $140 million in the deal.

Rayovac's chairman and chief executive, David A. Jones, said the company had been looking at branching out into new industries. "We've actually spent the last few years exploring this category," Jones said in a telephone interview Tuesday morning.

Rayovac approached United Industries within the last few months, Jones said.

The acquisitions of United Industries, which is expected to close in February, is part of an ongoing effort by Rayovac to expand its business beyond just making batteries, Jones said. Focusing on more than just one product will help attract more investors, he said.

"From an investment standpoint, we believe that the profile of the company will be more appealing and less risky," Jones said.

And Jones said the company's diversification effort will continue, but he declined to go into details.

United Industries Chief Executive Bob Caulk said the deal would create a stronger company. He said he expected some local job losses as the companies combine and streamline operations. He expected the companies to save up to $75 million over the next three years.

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