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Without stopping to catch its breath, Ivex Packaging Corp., is continuing its acquisition frenzy.

The Lincolnshire, Ill., firm has completed its fifth acquisition in 17 months with its Feb. 21 purchase of M&R Plastics Inc. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

``M&R extrudes and thermoforms in Canada; it's a natural fit and extends our position,'' said Richard Cote, Ivex vice president and treasurer.

Ivex's objective is to grow its business continuously by internal expansion and acquisitions.

M&R, based in Laval, Quebec, also has a plant in Summerstown, Ontario. It makes clear, rigid plastic trays and inserts for the food industry. While the products are primarily oriented polystyrene, the company also uses high-impact PS.

M&R has 300 employees, two extrusion lines and more than 20 thermoforming lines at its plants. Some of the extruded sheet is sold to converters, Cote said. The Laval plant is 50,000 square feet while Summerstown has 55,000 square feet.

The deal will boost Ivex's sales by about $25 million this year. The company had thermoforming sales of $160 million last year and another $160 million in sales for extruded sheet and film through its Kama Corp. subsidiary, based in Hazelton, Pa. Ivex was No. 3 in Plastics News' recent ranking of North American thermoformers.

Including the M&R acquisition, Ivex has more than 1,500 employees and nine plants in North America. Its main business includes extruded PS sheet and thermoformed OPS containers. These are sold to the grocery store, fast-food and food-service markets for packaging deli foods, salads, bakery goods and other food products.

Earlier this year, Ivex acquired Viskase Ltd., located in Sedgefield, England. That purchase expanded Ivex's OPS sheet business and gave the firm its first thermoforming sales into Europe. The deal will add another $20 million to Ivex's sales this year. Viskase, a unit of Envirodyne Industries Inc. of Oak Brook, Ill., retains PVC and oriented polypropylene film operations in Sedgefield.

In August, Ivex acquired Plastofilm Industries Inc., which has two U.S. plants, in-house sheet extrusion and $31 million in sales of medical and electronics packaging, segments that Ivex —heavy into food packaging — hopes to grow, said Frank Tannura, Ivex chief financial officer.

Pursuing its interest in those markets, Ivex followed that buy in September with the acquisition of Trio Products Inc., an Elyria, Ohio, sheet extrusion firm. The company has 10 million pounds of annual capacity for recycled PET, high density polyethylene and polypropylene sheet and sales of $8 million. It employs about 50.

Tannura said Ivex eventually plans to consolidate Plastofilm's sheet extrusion at Trio's Elyria plant. It will use some of that sheet capacity for in-house thermoforming operations, and will sell some on the open market.

Ivex had corporate sales of $480 million last year and has 19 plants in North America. It manufactures and markets plastic and paper products for the consumer, industrial, medical and electronic markets.