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Colt’s negotiating to buy Belgium competitor

July 9, 1997

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Colt’s Manufacturing Co. is negotiating to buy Belgian gun-maker FN Herstal, its chief competitor in the global small-arms market, company officials confirmed Wednesday.

``I am only authorized to say negotiations are under way. That’s all I can say,″ said company spokeswoman Sandra Rio.

French-controlled Giat Industries, which owns FN, announced in May it would try to sell the arms unit as part of company restructuring plans. FN, formerly Fabrique Nationale, has a manufacturing plant in Columbia, S.C.

FN has been struggling to survive in the face of declining military orders and competition from fledgling arms makers in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Colt’s, owned primarily by New York entrepreneur Donald Zilkha, is descended from the company founded by Hartford gun-maker Samuel Colt, whose Colt revolver was called the gun ``that won the West.″

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