Perstorp AB is divesting its molded plastic materials-handling product division to focus on its chemicals and flooring businesses.
The division includes injection and structural foam molding plants in Tacoma, Wash., and Detroit, plus operations in Europe and Asia.
The Perstorp, Sweden-based company will sell 65 percent of Perstorp Plastic Systems to private equity investment company Industri Kapital of Stockholm, Sweden.
Perstorp will retain a 30 percent stake, while the division's managers will hold 5 percent, Perstorp said.
PPS' new owner intends to invest in the company with a view to a public stock offering within three to five years, according to Perstorp.
``[PPS] fits in well with Industri Kapital's strategy, which is to invest in companies with strong management and interesting development potential,'' said Harald Mix, deputy chief executive at Kapital.
Plastic Systems, formerly a loss-making business, has undergone a major restructuring and consolidation program that reversed the negative trend, according to Perstorp.
The division had 1997 annual sales of $180 million, down from $230 million in 1996, and employs about 1,000.
PPS specializes in industrial materials-handling systems, including plastic crates, cases and pallets. It has plants in Austria, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United States, as well as joint ventures in Malaysia and Thailand.
The Detroit plant opened in 1997. PPS has been expanding into Eastern Europe, but closed a plant in Abingdon, England, last year.
Since the beginning of the last fiscal year, Perstorp AB has divested operations with total sales of $630 million.