Huntsman Packaging Corp. has pulled out of polystyrene foam packaging with its sale of plants in England and France to expanding Finnish food and packaging group Huhtamaki Oy.
Salt Lake City-based Huntsman sold Huntsman Container Co. Ltd.'s PS foam tray, box and tableware plant at Skelmersdale, England. Huhtamaki also bought a second plant, Huntsman Container Corp. France SA, at Guegon, France, a leading manufacturer of foam egg cartons.
Both facilities extrude and thermoform PS foam sheet. Terms were not disclosed.
Huhtamaki, based in Espoo, Finland, makes plastic and rigid paperboard food containers, cups, trays and disposable tableware. The company, with operations in 35 countries, had 1997 sales of $1.2 billion. It also produces a range of confectionary products.
Huhtamaki's Polarcup division, which manufactures foam packaging similar to Huntsman's, operates four plants in Britain and others in Sweden, Poland, Spain and Portugal. The British plants include two at Gosport, England, and ones in Leicester, England, and Portadown, Northern Ireland.
The combined 1997 sales for the France and England plants was about $44 million, according to Huhtamaki.
Huntsman Packaging, an affiliate of Huntsman Corp., said it wants to concentrate on its core film and flexible packaging businesses.
``Our foam packaging businesses are solid performers. ... However, as we have become a major force in the film and flexible packaging industry, we have determined that our foam businesses would be more strategic to another producer,'' said Richard P. Durham, Huntsman Packaging president and chief executive officer.
The Skelmersdale plant, operating since 1976, employs 210 and produces meat and poultry trays, hinged boxes, dinnerware and specialty trays, according to Huntsman. The Guegon plant, acquired by Huntsman Chemical Corp. in 1989, claims to be the top French supplier of PS foam egg cartons.
Huhtamaki says the deal's resulting consolidation will make it the ``clear No. 2'' foam packager in Europe behind Linpac Plastics Ltd. of Knottingley, England.
``The consolidation of the pre-packed meat and fresh-produce trade into fewer, larger entities with international links will allow us to develop this line of business on a pan-European scale, using Polarcup's extensive network,'' said Huhtamaki CEO Timo Peltola.
The Finnish group intends to keep all 260 employed at the two Huntsman plants. The firm does not expect to invest immediately in either operation since they are ``in good shape,'' said Markku Pietinen, corporate communications vice president.