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Plastics compounding: SO.F.TER. acquires PGroup

With its acquisition, long in the works, Italy's SO.F.TER grows in size, expands its offerings for the automotive industry, particularly in Germany, and also gains a better position for the supply of fiber reinforced compounds.

PGroup, based in Ferrara, Italy, there compounds polypropylene, PBT and polyamide; it also has a sales office in Stuttgart, Germany. The compounder was under court control after its bankruptcy, and SO.F.TER (Forlì, Italy), had "leased" it from April 2010 and was co-managing the business during it bankruptcy. Following court approval, SO.F.TER has formally acquired PGroup.

"The acquisition of PGroup represents a significant step forward in our growth strategy and allows us to rank among the top three independent compounders in Europe in terms of volumes, with 120,000 tons' projected sales for 2011," said Stefano Zocca, managing director of SO.F.TER, in a company release. "The first and most important result of this operation is a remarkable increase of the business with Germany, where the SOF.TER. Group strengthened its presence, particularly in the automotive industry. Moreover, the development of synergies in the production and commercial areas has just started and we expect to achieve important results in the near future."

The new owner does plant to make changes to the Forlì and Ferrara plants, so that each site will be responsible for specific product lines; it also plans to optimize its supply chain.

The SO.F.TER. Group had a turnover of about €150 million in 2010 in Europe, up from €92 million in 2009. In addition to its headquarters in Forlì, and now the newly acquired facility in Ferrara, it also has two other production units in Mexico and Brazil.

The acquisition is one in a string of them for SO.F.TER. In 2008 the string began with the purchase of compounder Matrixx Europe. Earlier in 2010 it acquired the Heraflex P elastomers range from Radici Group, with these elastomers molded for winter sports footwear soles. It also last year took over from DSM the Terra XPS range of TPE pellets; these are used in the infill of artificial turf, a niche in which SO.F.TER. claims global leadership.

P Group was the supplier of the foamable polyester used in the Dolphin project, an effort it pursued with injection molding machine manufacturer Engel, moldmaker Kaufmann and plastics supplier BASF. The Dolphin technology enables molding of a hard/soft foam material combination in a single mold cavity.

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