London-based BBA Group plc is growing in South America and the Asia-Pacific region through separate projects.
In South America, BBA Overseas Holding Ltd. on Nov. 12 paid $40 million for the polyester nonwoven products business of Rhodia-Ster SA, a Brazilian PET resin maker controlled by Rhone-Poulenc SA of Lyon, France. The acquired business makes geotextile films for road and construction applications, and it also supplies the shoe and automotive sectors.
In Australia, Pacific BBA Ltd.'s Australasian and Asian plastic division, Viscount Plastics, plans to open more Asian factories within the next three years, said Trevor White, Viscount Plastics' managing director.
BBA acquired Rhodia-Ster's nonwovens facility in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, plus its Bidim trademark and technical, commercial and administrative staff.
The 15.5 million-pound-per-year facility was the last nonwovens operation under the control of the Rhone-Poulenc group worldwide, said Valter Faria, investment relations manager at Rhodia-Ster.
Bidim expects to report 1997 sales of $22 million. It reported $16.5 million for the first nine months of the year.
``BBA is an important nonwoven producer and was interested in the South American market, while Rhodia-Ster has been trying to exit markets that are not its core business,'' Faria said.
Rhodia-Ster has focused on developing its PET resin business. The Sao Paulo, Brazil-based company is the biggest PET maker in South America, with a 397 million-pound-per-year plant in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil, and also produces recycled PET, polyester film, polyester fiber and PET rigid packaging at other Brazilian sites.
The $40 million netted through the sale of the Bidim business will reduce part of the $66.1 million loss the company has accumulated so far this year due to weaker PET resin prices.
The company, which reported a loss of about $62.8 million in 1996, owes a total debt of about $484 million.
In Asia and Australia, White said the number of factories opened will depend on market opportunities available to Viscount Plastics in the next three years.
Viscount currently holds shares in two Asian factories, in China and Thailand, and owns Chinese and Malaysian operations. It also owns three factories in New Zealand, and five in Australia.
The firm recently bought out the Malaysian government's minority share in its operation there. That factory supplies the Malaysian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Indonesian markets with polypropylene and polyethylene rigid packaging.
The newest Chinese factory, in Guangzhou, became operational in February. Fully owned by Viscount, the plant manufactures only packaging products.
Pacific BBA, based in Melbourne, will announce a name change by December, to reflect the company's Australian identity, White said.