(April 23) CHICAGO — What started as a rumor now has become official. Not only has packaging company Ivex Corp. been looking for a buyer, it has found one.

Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Alcoa Inc. has agreed to acquire Ivex for $790 million, $340 million of which is assumed debt.

Ivex has supplied the fresh fruit and vegetable industry with packaging since the early 1950s. It has produced a variety of products, ranging from composite paper packaging for table grapes to cushion fiber-filled pads and plastic dunnage protective trays for tree fruit.

The company also makes plastic lids, trays and containers for field and bush berries.

The company also has a partnership with Salinas, Calif.-based Pacific AgPak to develop and market clamshell packaging which is manufactured in Ivex’s Visalia, Calif., operation.

Mickey Crumpton, president of Pacific AgPak, said the partnership, which began in 1993, will not be effected under the terms of the sale.

“It will have zero impact,” he said. “We’ll still be doing the same thing we’ve always done.”

Crumpton said Ivex and Alcoa have had a relationship for years, and the acquisition could have some long-term benefits for Pacific AgPak.

“It might help us,” he said. “It will make us stronger with a bigger company behind us.”

Crumpton said he has moved more than 15 million clamshells so far this year without one rejection.

The transaction does not include Ivex’s 48.2% stake in Packaging Dynamics Corp., a Chicago-based manufacturer of specialty bags and wraps for the both the foodservice and retail industries. That stake will be distributed to Ivex shareholders, forming a new publicly traded company that will trade on a national exchange.

Ivex has about 3,700 employees in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia and will become part of Alcoa’s global packaging and consumer business.

The transaction is subject to the approval of Ivex shareholders and is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2002.