Fresh from acquiring Tempe, Ariz.-based Fiberite from Imperial Chemical Industries plc, a partnership of DLJ Merchant Banking and Carlisle Enterprises LP is shopping for other firms. The Oct. 6 acquisition for about $115 million occurred within two months of an agreement in principle for the prepreg supplier.
James E. Ashton, previously with FMC Corp. in Minneapolis, assumed duties as Fiberite Inc.'s chief executive officer and Carl W. Smith, formerly Fiberite general manager, was named president and chief operating officer. David L. Canedo, a Carlisle principal and former Rohr Inc. executive, will serve as chief financial officer for about six months.
Thompson Dean, managing director of DLJ Merchant Banking, said his firm will have a majority of the seats on the Fiberite board. DLJ Merchant Banking is a subsidiary of Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette Inc., the investment banking and securities unit of New York-based Equitable Cos. French insurer Axa SA owns 60.6 percent of Equitable.
Other acquisitions may be in the wings.
``We are actively talking to additional companies in conjunction with Fiberite,'' said James S. Carlisle, managing partner and chief executive officer of Carlisle Enterprises LP, a mergers and acquisition firm in La Jolla, Calif., with extensive aerospace and defense experience.
``The composites business in total is experiencing some consolidation, and there may be additional consolidation to consider,'' Ashton said. For example, Hexcel Corp. is combining its business with the composites division of Ciba-Geigy Ltd. before year end.
Fiberite ``concentrates on providing preimpregnated materials to people who fabricate structures,'' Ashton said. ``We don't have forward integration into building structures or backward integration into fibers.'' Fiberite is ``interested in acquisitions and applications of products outside of traditional spheres'' but will not discuss specifics now.
Ashton, 53, was vice president and general manager of FMC Corp.'s armament systems division from 1989-1994 and, earlier, held similar positions at Schlumberger's HDS division in Houston and Rockwell International Corp.'s Tulsa, Okla., facility. He also was an executive with three General Dynamics Corp. divisions.
Ben and Rudy Miller, two brothers in Winona, Minn., founded Fiberite in 1947. The company expanded to Orange, Calif., and Delano, Pa., in the 1960s and Greenville, Texas, in the 1970s.
Beatrice Cos. acquired Fiberite in 1980 for $65 million and sold the unit and other chemical operations to London-based ICI in 1985 for $750 million. Fiberite located administrative and research functions in Tempe in 1988, and opened a production plant in Ostringen, Germany, in 1989.
Fiberite is the largest supplier of prepreg in the United States with a market share near 40 percent, Ashton said. Fiberite employs about 750 and makes continuous-fiber thermoset and thermoplastic advanced composite materials and thermoset chopped-fiber molding compounds.
The company supplies unidirectional tapes, solution-treated fabrics and filament roving and dry woven graphite fabrics for aerospace, sporting goods and industrial applications.
In a related matter, XXsys Technologies Inc. settled a law suit against DLJ, Carlisle and ICI. XXsys received a cash payment, a six-year consulting contract with Fiberite and an agreement that Fiberite will provide research and development, materials testing and composite materials.
XXsys, a development-stage company in San Diego, alleged in an Oct. 2 complaint that DLJ Merchant Banking had agreed last year to explore financing with which XXsys planned to acquire Fiberite.