Wesley-Jessen Corp. of Des Plaines, Ill., has signed a definitive agreement to buy the worldwide contact lens business of Pilkington Barnes Hind for about $79 million. Wesley-Jessen, a contact lens manufacturer, is privately owned by Bain Capital Inc. of Boston, which bought the company a year ago from Schering Plough. PBH, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is also a leading contact lens manufacturer, domestically and globally.
The sale marks the end of a program to dispose of all of Pilkington's noncore businesses, said Roger Leverton, group chief executive of Pilkington plc of London in a statement announcing the deal on July 8.
With the acquisition of PBH, Wesley-Jessen will have access to global markets, including PBH's large operations in Europe and Japan. Wesley-Jessen manufactures rigid and disposable soft contact lenses.
PBH, which also makes a variety of rigid and soft lenses, reported sales of about $125 million for fiscal 1995. Wesley-Jessen expects sales of about $125 million for 1996.
Wesley-Jessen uses custom injection molders to make some of the polymer buttons out of which contact lenses are made. In 1993, Tech Group Tempe Inc., formerly Tech Medical Inc., opened a 24-press molding facility in a three-company technology venture to mold polypropylene buttons for Wesley-Jessen.
Ryke Fowler, marketing and sales manager for Tech Group Tempe in Tempe, Ariz., said he was aware of the acquisition, but could not say how it might affect his business.
An official at Wesley-Jessen said Tech Group Tempe is an ``outstanding vendor'' for the company, but it is too early to determine what the acquisition will mean for Wesley-Jessen's or PBH's suppliers.