Shareholders file lawsuit against Kerr
LANCASTER, PA. — A class-action lawsuit is adding another wrinkle to the effort of Fremont Partners LP of San Francisco to acquire Kerr Group Inc. of Lancaster.
A filing in a New Castle County, Del., state court against Kerr and eight directors alleges that the pending sale is unfair to preferred shareholders as a class and seeks an injunction to halt it.
Kerr is undeterred by the Chancery Court suit, filed July 30.
``The defendants believe the suit is without merit and intend to defend the suit vigorously,'' the firm said in a statement.
Kerr owes $2.55 per share, representing six quarters of undeclared dividends, to the holders of its class B cumulative convertible preferred stock. On Aug. 12, Fremont's cash tender offer for Kerr stock was extended again, to midnight Aug. 15.
Kerr makes plastic packaging for pharmaceutical and personal-care markets. It ranked 50th in Plastics News' 1996 ranking of blow molders, with an estimated $27.3 million in related sales. The firm reported total sales that year of $139.9 million.
Heico makes offer to buy Envirodyne
OAK BROOK, ILL. — Envirodyne Industries Inc. has yet-another acquisition offer to consider.
Heico Holdings Inc., a Delaware corporation affiliated with Envirodyne director Michael Heisley, is offering $8.50 a share, plus additional cash. The unspecified amount is to be based on damages Envirodyne is to receive from a lawsuit its Viskase Corp. subsidiary recently won against American National Can of Chicago. A response to the proposal, which is in the form of a statutory merger, was requested by Aug. 18.
This is the third offer this year for the Oak Brook-based firm, and the second from a company affiliated with Heisley. In June, Envirodyne's board rejected an offer of $8.50 a share, or $127 million, from HK Acquisitions Corp., a firm controlled by Heisley.
Envirodyne operates through wholly owned subsidiaries Viskase, Clear Shield National Inc. and Sandusky Plastics Inc.
Hanna buying 2 Harwick businesses
CLEVELAND—M.A. Hanna Co. will expand its specialized products offerings in plastics and rubber with the acquisition of the manufacturing business of Harwick Chemical Corp.
The purchase, expected to be completed in early September, will give Cleveland-based Hanna two businesses: Republic Chemical Co. of Akron, Ohio, and CMS Chemical of Wynne, Ark. The businesses combined rang up $60 million in 1996 sales for Harwick, which is headquartered in Akron.
Republic has 200 employees, while 100 work at CMS, a Hanna spokesperson said.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Harwick supplies chemical dispersions, specialty colorants and other products for rubber, which accounts for 80 percent of its manufacturing business, the Hanna spokesperson said. The remainder of its output is in color dispersions and dry colorants for plastics.
Fire strikes Wellman's Irish operation
MULLAGH, IRELAND—A July 28 fire at a Wellman Inc. fiber plant in Mullagh destroyed 2 million pounds of raw materials in two of the five warehouses on the plant site.
Damage estimates have not been assessed and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
The fire occurred while the plant was shut down. One firefighter was injured. Work will resume at a reduced rate Aug. 18, and no workers will be laid off. Reduced production is not expected to have a significant impact on operations or earnings. Customers will be supplied with products from inventory and Wellman's recycled fiber plant in Johnsonville, S.C.
The Mullagh plant's capacity is 174 million pounds per year. Jill Bongiovanni, Wellman investor relations manager, estimated that the plant carries 58 million pounds in inventory. Only about 3 percent of the inventory was lost in the fire.
Wellman manufactures and markets polyester products.
Steelworkers threaten Schulman strike
FAIRLAWN, OHIO—United Steel Workers Local 76 was set to hit the picket lines late last week if negotiations with Fairlawn-based compounder A. Schulman Inc. fell through. Officials for both sides could not be reached for comment by press time Friday.
A report in the Akron Beacon Journal of Akron, Ohio, indicated the company's contract with 120 union members was due to expire at midnight, Aug. 15. The report, quoting an unidentified worker, indicated talks were not going well.