PFB Corp. buys shares of Ontario toolmaker
CALGARY, ALBERTA — Plastic foam producer PFB Corp. has bought an 18.5 percent stake in tool builder Hallmark Technologies Inc. of Windsor, Ontario.
PFB of Calgary, Alberta, said June 15 it bought about 1 million shares of Hallmark for investment purposes. It previously owned no Hallmark shares.
PFB said it has no plan to make a takeover bid but it may acquire more shares and eventually boost its interest in Hallmark to more than 20 percent.
Hallmark earlier this year hired investment banker Nesbitt Burns Inc. of Toronto to help it find ways to increase the firm's value. Hallmark's sales in the first quarter, ended March 31, grew to C$12 million (US$8 million) and profit rose to C$641,000 (US$426,000).
Hallmark helped develop a polycarbonate stop sign that is gaining slow acceptance in U.S. and Canadian markets. Its partner in the sign venture, All Sign Products Inc. of Pompano Beach, Fla., recently inked an alliance with resin supplier Bayer Corp. of Pittsburgh. Bayer will be the exclusive supplier of PC resin and help with tooling costs, development and marketing of the sign.
PFB's sales for the first quarter were C$8.6 million (US$5.7 million) and profit was C$464,000 (US$309,000).
Hallmark's stock price increased C$0.28 (US$0.192) to close June 16 at C$4.08 (US$2.80). PFB's stock price was unchanged at C$5 (US$3.42) after the Hallmark stock purchase was announced. Both companies trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
British research firms form joint venture
SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND — Two British plastics research and development companies, Rapra Technology Ltd. and Materials Engineering Research Laboratories Ltd., have joined forces.
Under the alliance, Rapra, a Shrewsbury-based, international plastics and rubber industry consultancy, bought a 29 percent stake in MERL, an independent polymer research and technology laboratory in Hertford, England. Terms were not disclosed.
Rapra's investment has helped to fund a management buyout of MERL from its founder and managing director Andrew Stevenson. The firm's 22-member work force now has a controlling interest in the company.
Phil Extance, Rapra chief executive officer, is now a MERL director.
The deal allows the partner companies to pool their resources on commercial projects.
``This cooperation enables both organizations to compete nationally and globally, while retaining their independence,'' said Rod Martin, MERL's new CEO and formerly head of its advanced composites unit.
MERL, with annual sales of £1.6 million ($2.5 million), specializes in materials for engineering applications. It has expertise in plastics, elastomers, structural adhesives and fiber-reinforced composites for aerospace, and automotive civil and biomechanical engineering, according to Rapra. MERL was formed in 1986.
Rapra, which was formed 80 years ago, operates from two sites in Britain and has a 2-year-old, wholly owned subsidiary office in Charlotte, N.C., that has expertise in metallocene technology. Rapra has annual sales of £7.5 million (US$12 million).
NitroJection licenses gas-assist controller
MIDDLEFIELD, OHIO — Gas-assist equipment supplier NitroJection Corp. has agreed to license competitor Cinpres Ltd. to use a portion of its technology.
The agreement gives Cinpres, based in Tamworth, England, the ability to sublicense a pressurization control unit to its customers. The unit is used with gas-assist injection presses sold by both Cinpres and NitroJection.
The patent for the control unit is owned by NitroJection.
Cinpres already supplies a volume- and gas-pressure control unit on its machines. The license will allow the company to sell units using NitroJection's patented technology.
NitroJection, based in Middlefield, recently reacquired nine gas-assist patents that had been the possession of automotive parts supplier Johnson Controls Inc.'s automotive group in Plymouth, Mich. NitroJection had sold those patents originally to a company purchased by supplier Becker Group Inc.
Johnson Controls bought Becker Group last year.
Elf Atochem, BP link resin units in Europe
PARIS — Elf Atochem SA and BP Amoco Chemicals are merging their European polypropylene resin businesses, creating a powerful new regional player.
Elf Atochem of Paris, a subsidiary of French oil firm Elf Aquitaine SA, is joining London-based BP Amoco Chemicals, a unit of BP Amoco plc, in a 50-50 joint venture. The combined operations will have annual capacity of 2.6 billion pounds by the end of next year, the partners announced.
Separately, the companies are creating a worldwide PP research and technology joint venture that will allow them to pool their long-term research on the polymer. The venture will direct all future licensing activities, the companies said in a joint announcement.
The new European manufacturing and marketing venture is set to become the region's third-largest PP producer, behind Montell NV and Targor GmbH, according to a BP Amoco spokeswoman.
Merged operations include PP plants in Lavera and Gonfreville l'Orcher, France, which are operated by Appryl snc, an existing BP/Elf Atochem joint venture. Also included is the 572 million-pound-per-year PP homopolymer facility now under construction by Appryl at Grangemouth, Scotland, and scheduled to begin operating by the end of this year.
In addition, BP Amoco has two PP plants in Geel, Belgium.