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Wittmann Battenfeld, Sumitomo Demag born in 2008

The economic challenges of 2008 brought together companies in new partnerships—some predictable, others not. In late 2007, Battenfeld Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH (Kottingbrunn, Austria) filed for insolvency after being sold on Dec. 21, 2007 to OOD Private Equity Ltd., a London-based firm only formed in November 2007. News of that sale by Munich-based private equity firm Adcuram, which acquired Battenfeld’s injection business in October 2006, arrived at the Kottingbrunn headquarters with no forewarning.

In a Jan. 3 release, Battenfeld management said filing for insolvency was necessary since neither Adcuram nor the new owner transferred much-needed equity capital to the firm.

On Jan. 11, the state of Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) offered a €15 million loan to the firm to keep it running. Adcuram reintegrated the firm’s after sales service/spare parts as it shopped it for new owners.

That owner was eventually found in fellow Austrian firm Wittmann Plastics Machinery, a global manufacturer of auxiliary equipment and robots. The businesses said they would maintain separate marketing and sales, and noted that the combination is now the only single source globally from which a processor can acquire a complete injection molding cell.

For the first time under new ownership, Wittmannn Battenfeld GmbH opened the doors at its Kottingbrunn, Austria headquarters in June, inviting the molding community to its ‘Competence Days’ open house. Attended by more than 1000, the open house included educational seminars as well as opportunities to see hydraulic, toggle-modular and all-electric machines in operation.

Rumors swirled elsewhere at the start of 2008 in the machinery sector, with German press reports stating plastics processing machinery manufacturer KraussMaffei (Munich, Germany) was being readied for an initial public offer (IPO) in 2008. Around the same time, talk grew louder that Japanese injection molding machine maker Sumitomo was in talks with competitor Demag Plastics Group (Schwaig, Germany), with Sumitomo planning to acquire DPG, which last year was split from the other members of the then-Mannesmann Plastics Machinery (MPM) group: KraussMaffei, Netstal, Berstorff, and DPG. All of the firms belong to Madison Capital, which separated DPG from the others, shut the MPM holding, and organized KraussMaffei so that Swiss injection molding machine maker Netstal would fall under KM and extruder maker Berstorff was integrated into KM’s extruder manufacturing operations.

Soon word of Sumitomo’s advanced interest leaked, with news outlets saying the purchase was already a fait accompli. Among these, financial media outlet Bloomberg reported on Jan. 14 that SHI would buy DPG from investment fund Madison Capital. Bloomberg speculated the price would exceed 10 billion yen ($92 million). Finally, after months of discussion and approval by German antitrust authorities in late January, Japan’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. officially acquired Demag Plastics Group for €77.558 million. The agreement entered into force on March 3, 2008.

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