Ametek Inc., in a change of plans, said it will not sell its Westchester Plastics unit, an engineered plastics and rubber compounder with annual sales of $24 million. Last fall, Ametek announced it would divest the two-plant compounding operation, as part of a plan to reduce debt and boost stock value. But after looking at all the options and talking to various buyers, Ametek directors decided June 14 to keep the unit, spokeswoman Chelle Carlson said by telephone from the firm's Paoli, Pa., headquarters.
``As a result of Westchester's present and projected operating performance, we concluded that retaining Westchester will maximize its value to shareholders,'' Ametek said in a news release.
At plants in Nesquehoning, Pa., and Wapakoneta, Ohio, the unit employs about 300, and operates 24 custom and toll compounding lines, including six twin-screw extruders, that supply plastics to the automotive, telecommunications and appliance markets.
In line with a continuing restructuring, Westchester will be combined with Ametek's Haveg unit, which makes high-temperature textiles and heat exchangers, to form the new Chemical Products Division, which in turn is part of the Industrial Materials Group. Ronald Smith will head Chemical Products as vice president and general manager.
At the same time, the public company said it will buy back as much as $50 million worth of its common stock, to be used as options in an incentive stock plan for employees.
``We believe options align management and shareholder interests in an important way,'' Walter E. Blankley, Ametek chairman and chief executive, said in the release.
Since 1993, when Ametek first honed its stock en-hancement strategy, it has repurchased 28 shares, or $168 million, of its stock. Westchester is the firm's only plastics concern. Last year the parent had sales of $838 million.