Dor Moplefan Group SpA plays coy when asked if North America might be next on its agenda after it becomes the leading maker of polypropylene film in Europe.
Commercial director Mike Oshrat said Nov. 4 at Pack Expo International 2002 in Chicago that it was a little premature to discuss North American expansion. But he also said the Terni, Italy-based company knows the importance of the market.
``We know that we cannot be a major company without a strong presence in North America,'' Oshrat said. ``It is one of the many growth markets. We definitely are looking at the right ways to market to customers there.''
Others are keeping an eye on Dor Moplefan in the wake of several acquisitions and rumors about the company's intent to cross the Atlantic. Dor Moplefan announced Oct. 31 that it would purchase Trespaphan GmbH from Celanese AG, making Dor Moplefan the largest producer of biaxially oriented PP film in Europe.
That acquisition will give Dor Moplefan annual sales of close to 500 million euros ($490 million) and 551 million pounds of annual BOPP production capacity.
Currently, the company has a sales office in Closter, N.J. With the Trespaphan acquisition it will have a facility in Mexico but no other North American plants. Besides its eight plants in Europe, the company will have facilities in South Africa, Israel and Australia.
Dor Moplefan explored one potential opening in the North American market this summer, when it considered a bid for BOPP film maker Applied Extrusion Techologies Inc. of New Castle, Del.
A deal never happened, however, and AET later announced it would remain independent.
Meanwhile, Dor Moplefan is in the midst of a financial reorganization. At the time of the Trespaphan deal, Haifa, Israel-based Dor Chemicals Ltd. also announced it had sold a 49 percent interest to Boston-based investment group Bain Capital LLC.
Dor Chemicals still is digesting its November 2001 purchase of an 80 percent stake in Moplefan from Basell NV. Dor Moplefan is rearranging its operations, splitting management among officials from Dor and Moplefan. The company still must decide on a location for a new headquarters in Europe, Oshrat said.
``We are creating one company, reorganizing and reconstructing it from two companies,'' Oshrat said. ``Over the next one or two months, we will complete this and operate as a new group.''
The Trespaphan deal is subject to approval by the European Commission. The deal will give Dor Moplefan facilities in northern Europe, where it had none before, and added capabilities in such areas as coated film, labeling and overwraps for tobacco products, he said.
The new partnership with Bain is equally valuable, giving the company more cash and the presence of a global group, according to Oshrat.