The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2009.

Schweiter Technologies is a Swiss company focusing on the manufacture of textile and semiconductor machinery. The business currently consists of the SSM Textile Machinery and Ismeca Semiconductor divisions. Schweiter states that Composites will be managed as a third division in the group and that there will be no organisational or management changes. 

Alcan Composites, headquartered in Sins, Switzerland, is focused on sandwich composite technology for the display, architecture, and wind energy sectors. It operates 16 plants in Europe, the USA, South America, China and India and employs approximately 3000 people. Its products include the Airex and Baltek brand core materials for the composites industry. In the 12 months to August 2009, Alcan Composites achieved sales of US$649 million and an EBITDA of US$54 million (unaudited figures).

Last week, Rio Tinto announced the sale of 56% of the Alcan Engineered Products Cable business to Platinum Equity. Rio Tinto acquired Alcan in 2007.

"In the last three months we have made significant inroads into divesting the downstream assets acquired with Alcan, including offers or agreed sales for the majority of Alcan Packaging and Cable," says Guy Elliott, finance director, Rio Tinto. "Schweiter Technologies is well placed to successfully develop the composites business, and we are realising further value for Rio Tinto shareholders."

Since March 2008, Rio Tinto has announced asset sales of US$7 billion including the Alcan Composites sale.

Alcan Engineered Products consists of seven businesses: aerospace; non-commodity aluminium rolled products; aluminium extrusions; cable; composite products; automotive components; and international trade.

Rio Tinto is an international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Ltd, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.