The sale of Mannesmann Plastics Machinery AG ranks as a genuine blockbuster. Krauss-Maffei. Van Dorn Demag. Demag Ergotech. Netstal. Billion. Berstorff. All for sale. All at the same time!
Plastics News has dutifully reported the details of what is the biggest machinery story, by far, in our 12-year history.
Now I have a question for all of you who buy these injection presses and extruders out there: Do you care?
Plastics people like to wax poetic about technology. Injection molding machines are the heart that pumps the blood, er, the plastic resin, to form products America loves, and all that. But let's get real. Does it really matter who owns the company that builds your machines?
Processors can call me at (330) 865-6158 or send an e-mail with your message and phone number to [email protected] I'll report the results in a future column.
A history of the MPM saga could take an entire column. But in a condensed format, here's what happened: A hostile takeover attempt wiped out Mannesmann AG's plans for an initial public offering of an engineering, automotive and machinery business called Atecs, which included MPM. After that, it became a war of German giants, as Thyssen Krupp AG finally got outbid by Siemens AG and Robert Bosch GmbH. Just when things seemed to be settling down, last November, Siemens suddenly said it was putting MPM up for sale yet again.
Siemens wants to find a single buyer for all six members of MPM — and its 6,000 employees and $1.2 billion in 2000 sales. That's a big chunk for any existing plastics machinery company to swallow, which means MPM could end up in the hands of a deep-pocketed financial buyer. Anything can happen after that.
My hunch is that many customers don't care who buys Van Dorn, Krauss-Maffei or the others, as long as the new owner pledges to deliver good technology at a fair price.
Officials of MPM companies used this very argument while they cobbled together the plastics machinery giant. Ownership changes are no big deal, they reassured. After all, mergers and acquisitions are common these days.
It all sounds so logical. But so did the DaimlerChrysler merger. The point is, ownership does matter.
The people at MPM also were fond of saying that the only people scrutinizing the ownership issue are competitors and trade press reporters — not customers.
Well, processors, here's your chance. This story is playing out behind closed doors of boardrooms in Europe. You are the missing link.
Akron, Ohio-based senior reporter Bill Bregar covers machinery for Plastics News.