By BridgeNews Australia-based metals and resources company BHP Billiton Group and U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa Inc. have reached an agreement regarding the merger of Alcoa's North American metals distribution business with the BHP Billiton Group's North American metals distribution business, according to a joint announcement of the two companies on Aug. 19. Alcoa's North American metals distribution business is a firm called Reynolds Aluminum Supply Co. (RASCO). The BHP Billiton Group's North American metals distribution business includes Vincent Metals Goods in the U.S. and Atlas Ideal Metals in Canada, and is collectively known as NAMD. Alcoa and BHP Billiton each will own 50% of the independent company, the announcement said. The combined company will have 3,000 employees and 90 metals distribution service centers across North America. Combined revenues of the distribution businesses would have been US$2.1 billion for the fiscal year 2000, the companies said. The merger, subject to necessary regulatory approvals, is expected to close in October 2001. CEO of the new company, Harry Jones (currently CEO of NAMD), said the company expects to "find opportunities to leverage technologies and synergies in processing equipment, information systems, engineering, technical support, and the expertise of our combined workforces." Mike Goldberg, chief operating officer of NAMD, will be COO at the new company.