NEW YORK — The arbiter hearing DuPont’s complaint that Unifi Inc. was not living up to the terms of a polyester manufacturing alliance between the two companies has ruled in the Wilmington, Del.-based fiber giant’s favor, awarding DuPont $16 million in damages.

That’s less than the $85 million DuPont had initially sought when it brought the complaint in February 2002.

“DuPont is satisfied,” said a DuPont spokeswoman. “The damages awarded were fair and appropriate.”

The arbitration dispute, which involved the management of three partially oriented yarn plants — DuPont sites in Kinston and Wilmington, N.C., and a Unifi location in Yadkinville, N.C. — centered on whether Unifi was buying as much POY from DuPont as it was obligated to do.

Also at issue was the question of whether DuPont could execute the put-call provision of the alliance, which would have allowed it to sell its two plants to Unifi if that company was found to have committed a “substantial breach” of the agreement. As reported, in March the arbiter, Helms, Muliss of Charlotte, N.C., found there had been no substantial breach.

DuPont and Unifi inked the manufacturing alliance in 2002, in an effort to better manage their manufacturing assets. The DuPont spokeswoman said, “The alliance continues to operate successfully, with both parties receiving significant benefits, manufacturing efficiencies and collaborating on the development of several new products.”

Greensboro, N.C.-based Unifi said in a statement that the damages award would result in a $14 million charge to its earnings for its fourth quarter ending June 29. It already has charged $2 million in anticipated damages to its third-quarter results.

The arbitration squabble was seen by some sources as one of the details DuPont had to mop up before selling its DuPont Textiles & Interiors business, which it has said it intends to do before the end of the year. As reported, Koch Industries is seen as the most likely buyer, though neither company has confirmed the negotiations.

In a separate matter, also seen as needed to smooth the way for the DTI sale or spinoff, the company said Tuesday it has closed its tender offer for outstanding shares in DuPont Canada Inc. It raised its holding in that company to 93 percent from 76 percent. It plans to call a July meeting of Canadian shareholders to consider a transaction for DuPont to buy the rest of the Canadian business. DuPont wants to merge the Canadian business’ textile operations into a DTI unit.

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