3M ups production of safety products to aid Japan

Industrials Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Industrial conglomerate 3M Co <MMM.N> said on Thursday all 2,700 employees in its majority-owned Japan joint venture are safe and its facilities suffered only minor damage, and it is ramping up production of safety-related products.

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It also noted logistics are its top concern right now, and insurance claims will take a long time to process.

"We're still assessing the situation in Japan," 3M finance chief Patrick Campbell said at the start of the company's analyst meeting in Minnesota, which was monitored via Webcast.

"In April, we'll have a little better sense of what the impact could be," Campbell said. "This could take a while to play out. It is a large operation for us."

3M owns three-quarters of a joint-venture in Japan with 2,700 employees, representing about 9 percent of company sales, making components for industrial goods and consumer electronics.

All employees are safe at the Tokyo-based venture, though some suffered damage to their homes, and factories are intact with only minor earthquake damage, 3M said. Like other companies in Japan, 3M is wrestling with logistics like roads, fuel and utilities.

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The company is insured for both business interruption and damage to physical facilities, but its insurers will take a long time to figure out which policies apply in which cases.

Campbell added that 3M was ramping up production of safety-related products and was the world's leading maker of respiratory products, such as face masks.

"We're well positioned to work on the recovery process," he said.

The company said it was "right on plan" through February but did not immediately update its earnings or sales forecasts.

(Reporting by Nick Zieminski, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)