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Citadel purchases Lucent Polymers

By: Frank Esposito

December 6, 2013

Citadel Plastic Holdings Inc. sure likes spending its money in Evansville, Ind.

Officials with West Chicago, Ill.-based Citadel announced on Dec. 6 that the firm has acquired Lucent Polymers of Evansville for an undisclosed price. It’s the third time in six years that Citadel has acquired an Evansville-based materials firm. Previously, Citadel had purchased Matrixx Group and QTR Inc.

Lucent employs 250 at four locations in the Evansville area, making compounds mostly based on engineering resins but also doing some work in polyolefins.

The firm has annual sales of $80 million to $100 million, selling into numerous markets including automotive, appliance, electrical, packaging and sports and leisure.

Lucent “is a great fit for Citadel,” Citadel CEO Mike Huff said in a Dec. 6 phone interview. “Lucent diversifies our technology and moves us more toward engineering thermoplastic materials from our polyolefins base.”

The firm also has “a good position” in sustainable feedstocks, he added.

Citadel is buying Lucent from private equity firm River Associates based in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Lucent was founded in 1997 by compounding veteran Tim Martin. Lucent’s existing management team is expected to remain in place. Huff said that Lucent’s sales growth for 2013 is expected to be in “the high single-digits.”

Lucent operates 15 extrusion lines, most of which are single-screw.

Its facilities cover a total of 520,000 square feet.

Citadel and Lucent hadn’t competed versus each other very much, Huff said, adding that the move gets Citadel into markets for packaging and sports and leisure where it had not much participated.

The acquisition is Citadel’s seventh overall but its first since 2010. The firm was founded in 2007 by private equity firm Wind Point Partners of Chicago and was sold in early 2012 to HGGC, a private equity firm based in Palo Alto, Calif.

HGGC was co-founded by Plastics Hall of Famer Jon Huntsman.

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young also is a founding partner in the firm.

Looking ahead, Huff said Citadel is looking to make more acquisitions and is expecting sales growth of triple GDP levels. Following the Lucent deal, Citadel will have annual sales of about $400 million.

Other Citadel units are growing as well.

Matrixx will add a new twin-screw extrusion line at one of its Evansville plants in early 2014.

Huff said the line is needed to handle general business growth, with an emphasis on flame-retardant compounds.

Citadel’s Bulk Molding Compounds Inc. unit also will open its second Chinese plant by the end of the year.

West Chicago, Ill.-based BMCI has operated a plant in Dongguan since 2005 and now will have a plant in the Shanghai area.