Ingersoll-Rand records charge for asbestos claims

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Diversified manufacturer Ingersoll-Rand Co Ltd IR.N said on Friday it has taken a noncash pretax charge of $449 million for pending and estimated future asbestos claims through 2053.

The fourth-quarter charge, which will be $277 million after tax, results from a $538 million increase in recorded liability for asbestos claims to $755 million.

The claims are offset by an $89 million increase in assets for probable insurance recoveries, to $250 million, Ingersoll-Rand said.

The company had previously estimated those costs seven years in the future and determined in the fourth quarter that it could make a reasonable estimate for its total liability.

Ingersoll-Rand faces asbestos-related lawsuits in state and federal courts, primarily related to the production of pumps and compressors that used asbestos-containing products such as gaskets and packings bought from suppliers.

The company has resolved about 208,000 claims over the last quarter century, with settlements totaling $308 million, excluding insurance recoveries, and its insurance carriers, it said in a federal regulatory filing.

More than 100,000 claims were open at the end of 2007, over 90 percent related to nonmalignancy claims, the vast majority of which have little or no settlement value, it said.

The company’s analysis took into account a substantial and continuing decline in new nonmalignancy claims and an increased focus on claims involving mesothelioma, a cancer with predictable future incidence rates, and its experiences dealing with those claims.

Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Mark Porter/John Wallace