TORONTO — WedTech Inc. plans to expand in U.S. and European compounding markets now that it has a single shareholder.
The Toronto firm announced that Polyvector Corp. bought ICO Inc.'s 50 percent interest in WedTech on Jan. 16. Polyvector is a Toronto holding company majority held by John Lefas, WedTech president.
Houston-based ICO has expanded rapidly in compounding and custom grinding through acquisitions.
One of its acquisitions, Bayshore Industrial, completed a 50 percent capacity expansion early this year.
ICO inherited its half interest in WedTech when it bought Wedco in 1995. It sold its WedTech stake to Polyvector for C$20.8 million (US$14.4 million).
Lefas said in a telephone interview that Polyvector and ICO parted ways because Polyvector wanted to expand WedTech in the United States and Europe, where it would encroach on ICO subsidiaries' markets.
``[ICO] expected us to stay in Canada, but we have interesting products for the worldwide market,'' Lefas said.
Joe Moore, ICO vice president of investor relations, would not confirm Lefas' explanation but said ``there were some differences'' between WedTech's shareholders.
WedTech's annual sales are about C$55 million to C$60 million (US$38 million to $41.4 million). It custom grinds resins into powders for rotational molding and other processing, and makes masterbatches and specialty materials.
The company's plants are in Brantford, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; and Dewey, Okla. It opened the Dewey facility in 1994.
Lefas said WedTech plans to open a second U.S. plant in the Gulf Coast area, but he had no details on the project. He said some WedTech rotomolding resins are so specialized, it is economical to ship them to Europe.
ICO's plastic subsidiaries do custom grinding, compounding and color concentrates. Wedco, a major resin grinder for rotomolding and other applications, is based in West Portal, N.J., and also has European operations.
ICO bought Bayshore Industrial, a compounds and concentrates producer in La Porte, Texas, in 1996. Last year it bought rotomolder materials supplier Rotec Chemicals Ltd. of Rushden, England, and grinder and color compounder Verplast SpA in Vago di Lavagno, Italy, Moore said.
Bayshore completed a multimillion dollar expansion in early January, said Ed Bourbonais, the firm's president. It built a 100,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its existing one and equipped it with a twin-screw extruder designed and assembled by Bayshore engineers. Bayshore and ICO engineers designed the new production plant, which includes capacity for 100 railcars and more bulk handling capability.
Bourbonais said in a telephone interview that Bayshore now has compounding capacity of up to up to 200 million pounds a year. Its major customers are polyolefin producers, for which it makes compounds, concentrates and alloys.
ICO's other markets are petrochemical, energy and steel industries, to which it supplies high-technology services and equipment.