ESPOO, FINLAND — Plastic pipe giant Uponor Group of Espoo has acquired a 40 percent stake in a private German firm for an undisclosed amount.
Unicor Group GmbH, based in Hassfurt, Germany, manufactures five-layer, cross-linked polyethylene pipes with an aluminum component, as well as pipe extruding machinery.
One of the three controlling families of Unicor sold its stake to Uponor, which sees its investment in Unicor as a way to complement its own PE/aluminum pipe products, according to Uponor spokesman Tarmo Antilla.
``We have two factories that make a similar pipe, but [Unicor's] technology is a little bit different and is made in slightly different dimensions,'' Antilla said by telephone from the company's Espoo facility.
Uponor, which already uses some Unicor machines, may ``see some benefits also by getting close to the technology of extrusion,'' Antilla said.
Unicor was seeking a partner to help finance its recent growth phase, something Uponor is willing to do, Antilla said.
The new ownership arrangement, which includes a newly formed holding company, Unicor Group AG, will not immediately change the basic management structure of either company, Antilla said. But Unicor does plan to sell shares to its employees and go public ``in the near future,'' he said.
Uponor, which operates 33 plants in 14 countries, posted sales of 3.7 billion Finnish markka (US$817 million) in 1996. Unicor operates five plants in Germany, one in Cleveland, Tenn., as well as several others worldwide. The company has annual sales of DM200 (US$133 million), according to a press release issued by Uponor.