General Cable Corp. and BICC plc signed a definitive agreement under which General Cable would acquire most of the wire and cable assets of London-based BICC for $440 million in cash. The acquisition includes all of BICC's U.S. wire and cable operations and, if completed, make General Cable the second-largest electric wire manufacturer in North America and third-largest in the world.

General Cable, Highland Heights, Ky., would acquire BICC's worldwide energy cable and cable systems businesses, including 41 manufacturing plants in 16 countries and sales operations in an additional 20 countries throughout Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

The agreement with General Cable includes products marketed under the BICC Cables name in the utility market and under BICC Brand-Rex and BICC Pyrotenax in industrial, OEM, wholesale and government market segments. BICC Group is holding onto the BICC Brand-Rex data and specialty cable operations outside the U.S., in addition to its core businesses in engineering and construction.