Friedrichshafen, Germany - In the week before the start of the Fakuma trade show in southern Germany, the SMS group, whose plastics machinery brand names include Battenfeld, American Maplan, and Cincinnati Extrusion, made enough changes to keep the gossip going for the entire five show days at the stands of the major European injection molding machinery makers.
On Oct. 12, SMS GmbH, the holding company of the SMS Group, announced that Pepyn Dinandt had joined as a member of the board, responsible for the firm’s plastics technology business. Dinandt, no stranger to the plastics industry, was president of the mannesmann plastics machinery (MPM; Munich, Germany) group, which includes Demag Plastics Group, Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik, Netstal, and Berstorff from February 2002 until July 2006, when mpm was acquired by Madison Capital Partners (Chicago).
In a typically forthright statement, Heinrich Weiss, chairman and owner of SMS GmbH said, “ We are happy to have Pepyn Dinandt on our team as an experienced and successful leader in this industry. His responsibility will be to further develop the Plastics Technology Business Area within a limited time frame in order to maximize potential for further options for the SMS group.”
What those options may be is as yet unclear, but they won’t include the Battenfeld injection molding machinery business. On Friday, Oct. 13, 96 hours before the trade show began, SMS announced it had sold its Kottingbrun, Austria-based injection molding machinery manufacturing business, Battenfeld Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH, to Adcuram, a Munich, Germany-based private equity group specializing in takeovers of small-to-mid-sized manufacturers. The sale is the culmination of seven years of on-again off-again attempts to sell the molding machinery business, and leaves SMS’s plastics businesses focused on extrusion with the Battenfeld Gloucester brand of blown- and cast-film lines, and the Battenfeld Extrusionstechnik, Battenfeld Chen, and Cincinnati Extrusion sheet and profile-extrusion lines.
Adcuram is also familiar with plastics processing machinery, as it acquired Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH (Bonn, Germany), one of the best-known names in blowmolding machinery manufacture, in mid-2004.
The Battenfeld injection molding machinery business last year announced, and this year completed, closure of its facility in Meinerzhagen, Germany, leaving the Kottingbrun site as its sole machine-manufacturing location. Adcuram says it plans to expand the business by investing in services as well as R&D and wants to grow international sales “through strategic partnerships and appropriate acquisitions.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Oct. 17, in Friedrichshafen at a press conference at the Battenfeld stand, Thomas Probst, president of Adcuram, gave few concrete details as to plans for Battenfeld but said his firm considered its purchase a long-term investment.
“ We’re here to help Battenfeld get back to its original strength and importance in the industry,” he said. He cited services, R&D, and international operations as areas Adcuram hoped its experience in turn-around situations would be helpful. “ We like to think of ourselves as strategic investors, more so than just financial ones,” he added. Adcuram hopes to have Battenfeld reach 5% EBIT within the next 2-3 years, he said—a figure he says would fall in within the branch’s normal range. Shorter term, decisions will be made in the next months on whether to re-expand the firm’s machine range to include ones with clamp force tonnage greater than 650 tonnes and whether to launch a range of electrically powered machines.—Matt Defosse, [email protected]