The owner of Kerr Group Inc. may consider offers for the plastic packaging producer. Private investment fund Fremont Partners LP of San Francisco is evaluating whether potential buyers have interest or whether Fremont should continue to hold Kerr for more growth, said Richard Hofmann, Kerr president and chief executive officer
"I think they will come to a decision by the first of March," he said in a telephone interview.
The fund, an affiliate of Fremont Group, acquired Kerr in August 1997 for $92 million and has invested heavily in the Lancaster, Pa.-based business.
Hofmann said Fremont has turned down offers in the past, but now is saying maybe. He discussed the possibilities with employees Feb. 4, noting Kerr had 1999 sales of about $140 million and was "highly profitable, well north of the averages in specialty packaging businesses." Fremont is "getting pressure because of Kerr's performance," he said. Sales in 1998 were about $128 million.
Fremont Partners funded Kerr's 1998 acquisitions of Sun Coast Industries Inc. and Friendly & Safe Packaging Systems Inc. Kerr has looked at other businesses but does not have any current acquisition candidates, Hofmann said.
Kerr has a stream of new products, including a pharmaceutical container using child-resistant Friendly & Safe cap technology. Kerr employs about 800 and has plants in Bowling Green, Ky.; Ahoskie, N.C.; Jackson, Tenn.; and Sarasota, Fla.