Linpac Group Ltd., a global manufacturer of packaging, materials-handling and automotive parts, categorically denies reports that it has been put up for sale.
David Williams, managing director, dismissed reports suggesting that Linpac's owners, the Cornish family, are selling following the death last year of founder Evan Cornish.
Williams said the reports may have been sparked by news that the company has sold a paperboard box plant in Portugal to a joint-venture partner.
``We are a big company and are always looking at buying and selling businesses,'' he said. ``Things are going on all the time. But that does not mean the group is being put up for sale.''
The London Financial Times reported that several cash-rich private equity firms already had expressed interest in acquiring the Birmingham, England-based company. The report estimated the company is worth about £1 billion ($1.6 billion).
Linpac employs 11,000 in worldwide plastics and paperboard operations, and has annual sales of more than £1 billion ($1.6 billion).
Williams did reveal that Linpac recently agreed to make ``a big acquisition'' in a deal likely to be completed this summer. He declined to give further details.
In addition, he said the company is closing its automotive component plant at Overpelt, Belgium, later this year because the country has ``too high a cost base.'' The plant has 37 injection molding presses with clamping forces of 420-2,700 tons and painting facilities. It produces a variety of auto parts from bumpers and door-panel trim to glove boxes, consoles and wheel arches. It employs 300.
Evan Cornish, father of current Chairman Michael Cornish, founded the company in 1959 as a maker of paper-based packaging. Today most of its eight divisions do some sort of plastics processing, including injection, blow and rotational molding, as well as extrusion and vacuum forming.
Although Michael Cornish maintains a low profile, Williams said he is active in the business.
In North America the company's main subsidiary is Linpac Inc. of Kennesaw, Ga., which makes polystyrene foam packaging and film. Sister businesses include Ropak Corp., Linpac Materials Handling and Linpac Plastics.
Following the British press reports, one London-based packaging analyst confirmed that several European private equity firms are interested in acquiring parts of Linpac, each with an eye on particular group assets.
The analyst said Linpac's paperboard box operations would be a good fit for London-based CVC Capital Partners, which already has a strong packaging portfolio including Eindhoven, Netherlands-based Kappa Packaging.