BTR Nylex Ltd., an Australian subsidiary of the British industrial conglomerate BTR plc, will buy Formica Corp. for $617.5 million. BTR Nylex plans to increase the marketing of Formica products in China and other Asian markets.
The purchase price includes the assumption of about $338 million worth of debt.
Formica, based in Wayne, N.J., employs about 3,400 at 11 factories in the United States, Canada, England, France, Germany, Spain and Taiwan. The company makes decorative laminates used on kitchen counter tops and cabinets under Formica, Surell and other brand names. The high-pressure laminates consist of a thin strip of proprietary material over wood.
Ninety-five percent of Formica's 1993 sales of $447 million came from high-pressure laminates. Formica has nearly 20 percent of the worldwide market for high-pressure laminates, according to BTR. Operating profit was $35 million. Figures for 1994 were not available.
Formica does not disclose the type of plastics used in its laminates. But in recent years, the company has moved into other plastics materials, called solid surfacing products. For example, since 1993, Formica has been the worldwide distributor of the Nuvel brand of thermoformable sheet made from GE Plastics' Heavy Valox resin, a mineral-filled polybutylene terephthalate.
BTR Nylex of Melbourne, Australia, is a 62 percent-owned subsidiary of BTR plc of London. BTR Nylex owns an Australian laminates business called Laminex.
BTR also owns Continental PET Technologies Inc. of Florence, Ky.-the sixth-largest North American blow molder, with sales of more than $250 million, according to Plastics News' data.
BTR Nylex will acquire Formica's parent, FM Holdings Inc., an investment group that bought Formica in 1989 and took it private, according to an announcement BTR issued Dec. 22. FM Holdings officials include Vincent Langone, Formica's chairman, president and chief executive officer.
Formica was founded in 1913 and began making its laminates in 1927. Interest exploded in the early 1930s after Formica products were used on the luxury liner Queen Mary and in the Library of Congress.
American Cyanamid Co. later bought the company. In 1985, it was sold to a management group, which took the company public in 1987.