LOS ANGELES -- Armand Hammer and Arm & Hammer have become more than just namesakes. The industrialist and philanthropist has bought into the baking soda company -- 'by coincidence.'
Occidental Petroleum Corp., of which Hammer is chairman, announced Monday that it had acquired a 5 percent stake in Church & Dwight Co., which controls the Arm & Hammer brand name.
Under terms of the deal, Occidental gives up a 50 percent stake in its Muscle Shoals, Ala., potassium carbonate plant. In exchange, the Los Angeles oil company gets 1.1 million shares of Church & Wright common stock -- worth about $13.5 million -- and $5.3 million in cash.
Ray Shaffery, assistant chairman of Church & Dwight, said Hammer ended up a co-owner 'simply by coincidence. The reason for the deal is not the name. It's being done for sound business reasons.'
Both Hammer and family-owned Church & Dwight have fended off inquiries for years about links between the two, of which there were none. Hammer attempted to buy the company years ago to eliminate confusion, according to an Occidental spokesman, but the owners refused.
Hammer now will be elected to the board of Church & Dwight, which was founded in 1846 and also makes laundry detergent and toothpaste under the Arm & Hammer name.