Two big stories involving German plastics machinery builders — a planned initial public offering that includes Mannesmann Plastics Machinery AG, and proposed changes at Thyssen Krupp AG — have converged into one. Thyssen Krupp issued a news release March 24 saying it "has offered to enter into partnership discussions" with Atecs Mannesmann. Atecs is the new name for Mannesmann AG's engineering and automotive businesses. It includes MPM, the world's largest maker of plastics machinery. Mannesmann had planned to spin off Atecs into a new publicly held company.
MPM racked up plastics equipment sales of $1.1 billion in 1999. It owns six companies: Van Dorn Demag, Demag Ergotech, Krauss-Maffei, Netstal, Billion and Berstorff.
The Financial Times of London, using unnamed sources, said Thyssen Krupp made an offer for Atecs of as much as $8.75 billion to Vodafone AirTouch plc, the British telecommunications giant that is taking over Mannesmann AG.
Thyssen Krupp and Mannesmann both are based in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Thyssen Krupp, a steel and engineering conglomerate, already owns two plastics machinery companies in Germany: Krupp Werner & Pfleiderer GmbH, which makes compounding extruders, and Krupp Kunststofftechnik GmbH, which makes blow molding machines.
MPM Chairman Wolfgang Vogl was in meetings and could not be reached for comment March 24.
Ironically, last November, Thyssen Krupp announced it wanted to get rid of its plastics machinery units and some other businesses to focus on steel.
At the time, Thyssen Krupp listed several options, including spinning off the units into independent businesses, selling them, teaming with a partner or, if necessary, closing them.
Officials at Krupp Werner & Pfleiderer Corp. in Ramsey, N.J., had no comment about the latest development.