Graham Packaging Co. LP has boosted its European presence with its $44.4 million purchase of five CarnaudMetalbox plants.
``This will make us a true Pan-European operation, and we can focus on our European and global customers,'' President and Chief Executive Officer Philip Yates said in a telephone interview. ``We are working with the management at the old Graham Packaging Europe and CMB to develop a unified organization.''
CarnaudMetalbox is a division of Crown Cork & Seal Co. Inc. of Philadelphia.
Graham will acquire plants in Meaux and Noeux-les-Mines, France; Wrexham, Wales; Bad Bevensen, Germany; and Istanbul, Turkey. The deal gives the firm a total of 11 plants in Europe.
``These acquisitions will effectively double our European business and expand our European capacity to manufacture plastic containers not only for food, but for household chemicals, automotive products and other specialty products,'' said Alex Everhart, senior vice president and general manager of Graham Packaging's European business unit.
``The addition of these facilities will help give us greater penetration into the markets of the United Kingdom and Germany and help establish us in Turkey. They also will augment and reinforce our existing expertise in coextruded bottle production.''
With the five CMB facilities, Graham Packaging claims to be the leading producer of rigid custom plastic food containers in Europe.
Crown Cork officials did not return calls. A news release from the company said the five plants generated about $70 million in 1997 net sales of extrusion blow molded high density polyethylene containers for food, juice, industrial and household products. Proceeds from the divestiture have been used to reduce short-term debt.
Crown Cork will continue to produce HDPE containers for personal-care applications in Europe at plants in France, Germany and Poland. Crown Cork's European division is a top manufacturer of plastic closures, PET bottles, and health and beauty care packaging. The company's European operations netted about $1 billion last year in sales.
Graham blow molds HDPE, polypropylene, PET and PVC and has silk-screening and decorating capabilities.
``This is an excellent fit and we're very excited,'' Everhart said. ``This places us in different parts of France and into new markets. We have been working 12 hours a day to combine these two entities and to tell our customers.''
Graham Europe employs more than 1,000 and operates more than 150 production lines. With the acquisition, the plants will generate an estimated $170 million in sales, Everhart said.
Graham's newest facility began operating at the end of last month in Nyirbator, Hungary. The on-site manufacturing is in a Unilever plant. Graham operates three blow molding machines there and provides technical services and technicians. Graham invested more than $3 million in its latest plant.
In 1997, Crown, Cork & Seal had total sales of $8.5 billion from 247 plants in 49 countries. The company ranked No. 1 in Plastics News' annual survey of North American blow molders, with estimated relevant sales of $730 million.
Graham Packaging, based in York, Pa., makes custom blow molded rigid bottles at 47 plants in 10 countries. North American sales were estimated at $515 million last year, placing the firm fifth in the ranking.