WASHINGTON — The American Plastics Council and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. held the first meeting in their long-awaited merger talks April 29, but the two sides do not appear any closer to saying if they ultimately will come together.
The Washington-based groups came out of the meeting agreeing to talk again, but both APC and SPI officials said that all the issues of concern to both sides — including the structure and leadership of any merged group — remain up in the air.
Negotiators for the task force have yet to decide if a merger is feasible, APC President and Chief Executive Officer Red Cavaney and SPI President Larry Thomas said in a joint interview April 30. Neither of them attended the roughly four-hour meeting in the Cincinnati area.
SPI Vice Chairman Harry Ussery, the senior SPI official at the meeting, said the talks are in a delicate stage and negotiators wanted Cavaney and Thomas to make the public statements.
``Everyone's desire is for this to continue advancing,'' he said. ``We don't want to inflame anything.''
The prospect of a merger has proven to be a heated topic within SPI.
Several former leaders of the group wrote current Chairman Patrick Jack on March 11 protesting the talks and saying that APC should become a subsidiary of SPI. At least one SPI division formally has voiced its preference that the group remain processor-focused. APC is made up largely of resin suppliers, while SPI also includes processors and machinery makers.
``Everyone is concerned with the need to maintain that balance'' within SPI, Thomas said. But the talks did not reach any conclusions on how any new group might structured, he said.
``There is a big, gaping void of substantive information'' to pass on about the meeting, Cavaney said. ``It is so hard for Larry and myself to say that anything has been resolved.''
Both officials said their members told them the meeting was productive. No date has been set for the next meeting, they said.
The negotiators spent some time talking about how successful their joint state government affairs effort has been since it was launched Jan. 1, Cavaney said. A four-paragraph joint statement released by Ussery, president of Beacon Plastics Inc. in Greenville, S.C., and APC Chairman Robert Gower, chairman of Lyondell Petrochemical Co. in Houston, said the industry has ``gained greatly by the closer ties.''