AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ J.P. Bolduc, ousted as chief executive at chemicals giant W.R. Grace & Co. over charges of sexual harassment, sought state backing Friday in his bid to buy a Maine rope manufacturer.

Bolduc has signed a letter of intent to buy Warren, Maine-based Andrew Crowe & Sons Inc., which sells $35 million in products a year and makes more than 1,000 kinds of rope and twine.

The Finance Authority of Maine has been asked to provide $2.3 million in loan guarantees as part of an $11.5 million bank financing package for the deal. The state agency referred the request to a subcommittee that will decide on the guarantee by Dec. 15.

Agency spokesman Charles Mercer said the board appeared supportive of the request.

Bolduc, a native of Lewiston, Maine, quit as Grace's CEO in March after an internal controversy over lucrative perks the company gave to former chairman J. Peter Grace Jr. and his family.

Grace's board of directors initially cited ``differences in style and philosophy'' in Bolduc's departure, but weeks later said it was based on sexual harassment allegations against him.

Bolduc vehemently denied the charges and no official complaint was ever filed.

He is the first chief executive of a major company to be openly ousted over such allegations.

Former Gov. John R. McKernan, a friend of Bolduc, helped bring the Crowe deal about by introducing Bolduc to the company. Bolduc would own 95 percent of the company and McKernan would own the remainder.

Crowe has lost money during the past two years, but Bolduc is willing to risk much of his own money to take over the company, said Mercer.

``We think that he has a real good viable long-term plan that's going to help the revitalization of the company and help it find new markets,'' Mercer said.

Bolduc intends to keep the company in Maine and work toward growth and expansion, according to Matt Burns, Crowe's chief executive.