LONDON — Courtaulds plc is seeking buyers for its Polymer Products Division, which includes plastic tubes, closures and high-performance film manufacturing in Britain, the United States and Asia.
The proposed sale, which the firm expects to raise £200 million to £300 million ($328 million to $492 million), is part of a major restructuring, prompted by problems chiefly in its fibers business.
In addition, London-based Courtaulds announced it will pull out of a European oriented polypropylene film joint venture with Hoechst AG of Frankfurt, Germany.
Courtaulds' current structure ``has impeded our efforts to release shareholder value,'' said Gordon Campbell, chief executive officer. ``In such circumstances, it is the duty of any board to review a full range of strategic options, and the restructuring is a result of this appraisal.''
Polymer Products is the smallest of Courtaulds' three divisions, with 1997 profit of £19 million ($31 million) and sales of £228 million ($374 million).
It comprises primarily two separate businesses. The bigger, packaging, includes tamper-evident, child-resistant and other closures, and collapsible plastic, metal and laminate tubes for toothpaste, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications.
The second business, performance films, specializes in dyed, coated, laminated and metalized plastic films for high-tech industrial and aerospace applications. Courtaulds claims to lead the U.S. market for enhanced polyester solar-control film for vehicle and building windows.
The packaging unit includes Courtaulds Packaging Ltd.'s three plastic tube, container and closure plants in the United Kingdom: in Colchester and Stevenage, England; and Wrexham, Wales.
In the United States, Courtaulds Packaging Inc. of Florence, Ky., has a tube and rigid plastic closure injection molding facility at Woodstock, Ill. In 1996, the firm suffered through a delayed and costly shift of its tube extruding lines from a now-closed plant in Muscatine, Iowa.
In Asia, the company has three laminate tube subsidiaries. They include PT Courtaulds Packaging Indonesia of Mojokerto, Java; Courtaulds Packaging of Shanghai Co. Ltd. in Shanghai, China; and a 70 percent venture with India Aluminum Co. Ltd. in Goa, India, established last year.
The films operation, run by Courtaulds Performance Films Inc. of Martinsville, Va., includes plants there and in Canoga Park, Calif., and Runcorn, England. The division also has a small, specialized composite fabricating unit, Ballistic and Performance Composites Ltd. of Coventry, England.
The OPP joint venture was formed in December 1995. It includes plants at Swindon, England; Mantes-la-Ville, France; and Neunkirchen, Germany. The plants' total capacity is about 264 million pounds per year.
Courtaulds will sell its 28 percent stake in the joint venture to Hoechst, while buying out Hoechst's minority share in a fibers joint venture in Germany.