Rieter Holding Ltd. of Switzerland buys Chicago-based Globe Industries Inc. for $160 million, giving Rieter entry into the U.S. automotive market. Through its automotive division (formerly known as Unikeller in Europe), Rieter -- a 200-year-old company -- supplies noise-control and thermal-insulation products and systems as well as interior trim.

Globe produces a similar product line for the Big Three and transplants. The companies have worked together since 1978. With both companies' having joint-venture activities in Japan, "We are creating an acoustic belt around the world," says Matti Paasila, Rieter Group's chief automotive executive.