CLEVELAND - Cookson Group plc is selling two operations that make special additives for the plastics industry. The London-based company is selling Synthetic Products Co., based in Cleveland, and Anzon Inc. of Laredo, Texas. The two companies reported 1994 sales of more than $200 million.
Frank Callahan, president of Cookson's plastics division in Providence, R.I., said the two companies together employ more than 500.
It is likely the sale will take place this year, Callahan said. He said Cookson has begun talking with potential buyers. Callahan said Cookson hopes to sell the entire division at one time rather than sell the operations piecemeal.
``If you split it up you could probably get three pieces out of it, but you'd have to work three times as hard to sell it,'' he said.
At least two companies have expressed an interest in the companies, sources said. Synthetic Products Chairman Tom Jennings, a 29-year company veteran, said he has talked with John Lauer, former president of BFGoodrich Co., about the sale of the business. Lauer is seeking to acquire a plastics company with the backing of Primus Venture Partners of Cleveland and New York-based Bessemer Holdings L.P.
However, Jennings said the talks with Lauer were not on-going.
According to Jennings, Cookson so far is focusing its efforts on working with large, established companies in the plastics industry.
In addition, two sources working in the mergers and acquisition arena said Cookson has been in talks with Chicago-based Morton International Inc. of Chicago, a company with total 1994 sales of $2.8 billion and substantial operations in the chemical industry.
Both sources requested anonymity.
Morton spokeswoman Nancy Hobor would not confirm or deny the reports, but said Morton is in the hunt for acquisitions. Morton does fit the profile Callahan and Jennings gave of a likely buyer - a huge company with available cash and on the prowl for strategic acquisitions.