Klockner Werke AG dramatically is expanding its capacity for rigid PVC films and barrier films through acquisitions and internal expansions.
In North America, Klockner said it will expand its rigid PVC film capacity at Rural Retreat, Va., and its coating and laminating capacity for barrier films in Gordonsville, Va. Both operations are run by subsidiary Klockner Pentaplast of America Inc., based in Gordonsville.
Klockner of Duisburg, Germany, recently acquired the half interest of its PVC film joint venture Kalle Pentaplast GmbH formerly held by Hoechst AG. In a separate development, Klockner bought Aerni Leuch AG, a Liebefeld, Switzerland, producer of barrier packaging films for pharmaceuticals.
Klockner Pentaplast of America President Harry van Beek said his parent company paid less than $100 million for the other half of Kalle Pentaplast. Kalle Pentaplast focused on sales outside North America and has production facilities in Gendorf, Graben-Neudorf and Montabaur, Germany, and Weert, the Netherlands.
Klockner had an option to buy out Hoechst's portion of the venture three years after the venture's formation in 1996 but decided to do it earlier, according to van Beek.
Van Beek said Klockner's total rigid PVC, polyester and polypropylene film sales, including in North America, now total about $700 million annually. Key markets for those films include credit card stock, packaging, office supplies, furniture and shrink applications.
Van Beek estimated Kl[ckner's coated and laminated barrier film sales for pharmaceuticals at about $100 million per year globally when Aerni Leuch's $40 million in sales are included.
Klockner and Aerni Leuch have developed barrier blister films for more than 20 years and Klockner Pentaplast's Gordonsville barrier film plant was an Aerni Leuch licensee. Aerni Leuch was a family-controlled company.
Van Beek said Klockner and Aerni Leuch make identical products listed in drug master files, making it easier for multinational drug firms to source packaging from either operation. Each plant coats and laminates vinyl, polyester and PP films with polyvinylidene dichloride and Aclar chlorinated fluoropolymer.
Klockner Pentaplast is spending about $22 million on a new calendering line at Rural Retreat that will focus on rigid, thin films. Van Beek said the new line, with annual capacity of about 35 million pounds, will be smaller than the giant 50 million-pound calendering line it installed last year and will focus on films from 2-10 mils thick. Typical applications include credit card core stock, battery covers, shrink films and reverse printing products. The company will build the new line itself.
Klockner Pentaplast will invest another $7 million in a new coating and laminating line at Gordonsville capable of making about 35 million pounds per year of barrier film for moisture-sensitive pharmaceutical applications and other uses. The line will double the firm's capacity at the site.
Uncoated PVC stock will be sourced from an adjacent Klockner Pentaplast rigid film plant, according to van Beek. He added that his company still is negotiating with Swiss suppliers for the new line.
Klockner Pentaplast targets early 1999 to start up both of the new U.S. production lines.
Van Beek estimated global demand for rigid films is growing about 4-5 percent annually while growth of rigid barrier films is as high as 20 percent. He cited EVC International NV of Amsterdam and Nan Ya Plastics Corp. of Taipei, Taiwan, as Klockner's major competitors, including in North America.