MEXICO CITY - Panamerican Beverages Inc., the biggest Coca-Cola bottler outside the United States, is acquiring some plastics molding operations through its purchase of a major Central American Coke bottler. Mexico City-based Panamco announced Sept. 14 that it is buying Embotelladora Tica SA of Costa Rica, for US$75 million, subject to approval from Coca-Cola Co. Panamco, Latin America's top soft drink bottler, with operations in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, expects to take over Tica on Oct. 1.
The deal includes Tica's PET preform injection and bottle blowing subsidiary, Pl sticos Nupac SA, for US$15 million. It produces 5 million half-liter and 1 million 2-liter PET bottles a month, plus 1-liter bottles, using mainly second-hand machinery.
Tica, expected to announce profit of US$7.3 million on sales of more than US$75 million for its fiscal year ending Sept. 30, has an 84 percent share of Costa Rica's soft drink market. The nation has a population of 3.3 million that is one of Central America's youngest, Panamco said.
The Costa Rican firm dis-tributes Coca-Cola products to 85 percent of the nation and Canada Dry products to 100 percent of the country. Two Coca-Cola franchise bottlers serve Costa Rica's northern Atlantic and southern Pacific coasts.
About 30 percent of Tica's drinks are in one-way PET bottles, 12 percent in returnable PET bottles and the rest in nonreturnable glass bottles, said Luis Diego Gonzalez, operations director.
Pl sticos Nupan, which Tica formed eight years ago, runs a plant in Costa Rican capital San Jose, near Tica's bottling plant. It has nine injection molding machines with clamping forces of 250-1,200 tons, and four blow molding machines, said Oscar Campos, production manager.
Of the injection presses, six are 250-ton Cincinnati Milacron machines, one is a 750-ton Van Dorn model, one a 1,200-ton Krauss-Maffei and the last a smaller, new Taiwanese press.
Three Milacron machines produce preforms while two others and the Taiwanese press make HDPE base cups for two-piece PET bottles. The firm uses the final Milacron press for spares, and the bigger machines produce HDPE crates, said Campos.
Nupac makes 80 percent of the preforms it uses, and buys the rest from U.S. firms, including Johnson Controls Inc. and Constar International Inc. It expects to phase out two-piece bottles by the turn of the year and to devote other machines to preform output as demand rises.
The firm operates two Sidel blow molding machines - an SBO/10 and an SBO/4 - and two Milacron RHB/5 machines. Nupac expects to take delivery of a new US$2.5 million Sidel SBO/6 line by the end of this month.
In addition to Tica's bottles, Nupac makes PET bottles for low-volume markets of bottled water, cooking oil and liquor. Itmakes these by one-stage injection blow molding on two small Nissei 650 machines and one Nissei 250.
This third-party business, including export of rum bottles to neighboring Nicaragua, currently represents about 20 percent of the firm's total volume. But, as it grows, Nupac has tentative plans to invest in a bigger, new injection blow molding machine, perhaps in late 1996, said Campos.
Rival Pepsi-Cola, which is said to have only 20 percent of the national market, is believed to have introduced PET bottles to Costa Rica. Its local franchise bottler is understood to obtain its PET bottles from the other Costa Rican PET processor, Envases Tecnicas SA of San Jose.
Commenting on the Tica acquisition, Panamco Chairman and Chief Executive Francisco Sanchez-Loaeza said, ``Tica has a proven track record, experienced management team, a strong market share and solid growth prospects. We intend to move quickly and aggressively in Costa Rica to ensure Tica benefits from the added resources and experience of Panamco.''