Armand Hammer and Arm & Hammer have been mixed up for decades, but Hammer's company says it's mere accident that the globe-trotting industrialist will soon own a piece of the baking soda producer.

Hammer, 88, the chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corp., announced yesterday that his company will form a partnership with Church & Dwight Co. Inc., which makes Arm & Hammer products.

In an interview last year, Hammer said people asked him constantly if he owned Arm & Hammer. "A few years ago, I offered to buy it so I could say yes. But the owners didn't want to sell."

But Occidental spokesman Frank Ashley said yesterday that "any connection of the name is coincidental."

Los Angeles-based Occidental said it has signed a letter of intent to form a partnership with Church & Dwight, of Princeton, N.J., which makes consumer products under the Arm & Hammer label, including sodium bicarbonate, toothpaste and laundry detergent.

Under the partnership, to be known as Armand Products Co., the two firms will have an equal share in a potassium carbonate plant at Muscle Shoals, Ala. Occidental acquired the plant earlier this year when it bought the chemical division of Diamond Shamrock Corp.

In exchange for relinquishing 50 percent of the Alabama plant, Occidental will receive 1.11 million shares, or about 5 percent, of the common stock of Church & Dwight, plus $ 5.3 million in cash.