DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Barlo Plastics Europe NV quickly has become a leading player in Europe's plastic sheet industry.
Now the firm wants to expand through a new acquisition. Its target: Axxis NV, the Tielt, Belgium-based PET and polycarbonate sheet producer owned by DSM Engineering Plastic Products BV.
DSM is considering a possible sale of Axxis and its U.S. sister firm, Sheffield Plastics Inc. of Sheffield, Mass.
Barlo, based in Geel, Belgium, was formed via several recent acquisitions. The company, with an estimated $150 million in annual sales, made its international introduction at K'98 in Dusseldorf.
Barlo Plastics includes BASF AG's former acrylic and PC sheet operations: Resart GmbH of Mainz, Germany; and Critesa SA of Montcada i Reixac, Spain. It also includes IRG Plastics NV's polystyrene, styrene acrylonitrile and glycol-modified PET sheet operations in Geel and the Czech Republic.
Barlo Plastics is owned by radiator and plastics packaging company Barlo Group plc of Dublin, Ireland. It acquired IRG in 1992, opened the Czech PS sheet plant at Pribram two years ago, and added the BASF plants in November 1997.
``We are setting a new course in plastics sheet production. We include three European companies, already very successful in the sheet market, and can offer the widest product spread in the sheet industry,'' said Andre De Smet, Barlo Plastics' managing director.
He said Barlo Plastics intends to expand its product range.
``We will get there through product development or acquisition,'' he said, adding that Barlo is ``considering a stream of opportunities to grow the business,'' including Axxis.
DSM NV, based in Sittard, the Netherlands, is ``discussing a growth strategy'' for Axxis and Sheffield. Options include a partnership, joint venture or sale.
Barlo Plastics expects to produce 77 million pounds of sheet in 1998, using both extrusion and cast processing methods.
De Smet said the firm's competition is divided between large integrated resin and sheet producers in Europe and independent suppliers, including small Israeli firms. Barlo Plastics already is exporting beyond Europe to Israel, Morocco and Egypt, he added.
Barlo Plastics plans to invest in new capacity at the Pribram plant this year. The company also is integrating its operations, concentrating acrylic and PC sheet extrusion and polymerization at Mainz; PS at the Czech unit; and higher-added-value products, including SAN, PET-G and coextruded material, at Geel.
Barlo Group already had plastics operations prior to the sheet acquisitions. Barlo Packaging comprises Sealcon Ltd. of Newbridge, Ireland, which thermoforms and prints polypropylene and PS for dairy spreads; and Stanley Smith Ltd. of Isleworth, England, which molds, calenders and laminates PVC, PP and polyethylene.
Barlo Group is considering integrating all its plastics interests under Barlo Plastics, De Smet said.