MEINERZHAGEN, GERMANY — SMS AG has named two new managing directors of Battenfeld GmbH to replace Lutz Weisbecker, who is leaving the German injection press manufacturer. SMS announced the new directors, Fritz Dorner and Reinhard Gruber, during a January news conference in Germany. The management changes came just a few weeks after SMS declared it was canceling the pending sale of Battenfeld to a Chicago investment firm, Madison Capital Partners.
Each of Battenfeld's two factories now will have its own managing director. Dorner will run the headquarters plant in Meinerzhagen, which makes large-tonnage injection molding machines. Dorner, an engineer, joined Battenfeld in 1993. He was promoted to head of production in 1995 and, in 1997, to technical works manager at Meinerzhagen, a position that oversees production, logistics, orders and product design.
Gruber will run the plant in Kottingbrunn, Austria, that turns out small and midsized machines and robots. Gruber joined Battenfeld in 1996 as works manager at Kottingbrunn. Battenfeld promoted him to technical managing director of the plant in 1997.
A published report from Europe said that the veteran Weisbecker was leaving on friendly terms, allowing SMS to bring on the younger managers.
SMS now plans to run Battenfeld — a turnabout from its earlier decision to sell the $200 million-a-year injection press business and focus on extrusion and blown film machinery.
When it killed the previously announced deal to sell to Madison Capital, Battenfeld said that Madison was unable to obtain "appropriate financing" — a charge that Madison officials have hotly denied.
Madison Capital officials had no comment on the recent management changes in Germany.