Israeli consumer products molder Keter Plastic Ltd. is at an advanced stage of negotiation to acquire a European plastics processor. Keter declined to confirm reports that the target is French storage container and bathroom fitment maker Allibert Group.
Allibert, meanwhile, said that it is in talks with a rival, but would not confirm that the suitor is Keter.
Voreppe, France-based Allibert, a private company spun off from French automotive parts group Sommer-Allibert in 1997, operates six injection molding and vacuum forming plants in France and Belgium. The company has 900 employees and sales of about $150 million.
Keter of Herzliya, Israel, has 12 plants in Israel plus four facilities in Belgium, Denmark, the United States and the Netherlands. It also produces household storage bins and bathroom fitments.
The daily Yediot Ahronot in Israel linked Keter and Allibert, but said that Keter Chief Executive Officer Tal Sender declined to discuss any deal until it is concluded.
In response to Plastics News queries, the injection molder acknowledged it is in discussion with several companies abroad. A spokeswoman refused to confirm or deny that Keter is negotiating to acquire Allibert.
Formed in 1930, Allibert, formerly the bathroom equipment division of Sommer-Allibert, now is owned by Allibert Venture SA of Luxembourg, a subsidiary of U.S. private equity firm JP Morgan Partners LLC.
``Our shareholder has been in discussion with potential partners for about a year. Three months ago, it opened discussion with just one of those businesses,'' said Allibert financial director Jean Luc Gibier.
He would not reveal the identity of his firm's would-be partner, but confirmed it is a foreign plastics processor in the same area of business as Allibert.
Keter Plastic, a 50-year-old private company owned by the Sagol family, produces a range of molded plastic consumer products at its plants in Israel, chiefly for export. These include garden furniture, housewares, storage bins and bathroom ware such as basins, toilet seats and lids, the Keter spokeswoman said.
In the United States, Keter North America of Alexandria, Ind., operates one production plant where it manufactures shelving units. Those, and other Keter products brought in from Israel are supplied through its national subsidiaries including US Leisure of Stanley, N.C. A major customer has been the Home Depot store chain.
Keter Plastic expects to record annual sales this year in North America of $450 million.
About 24 percent of Allibert's business is in household plastic containers and other goods, while a 15 percent share covers short-run molded automotive components such as bumpers and dashboards for vans and agricultural tractors, according to Gibier. The rest of its sales come from bathroom units and fitments.
Allibert manufactures household plastic goods at Voreppe and Oeselgem, Belgium. Baths, shower trays and basins are vacuum formed at Troyes and Le Mans, France, while it makes toilet seats at Moirans, bathroom units at Chatellerault and cabinets and accessories in Voreppe.
The firm consumes about 55 million pounds of polymers a year in its injection molding and vacuum forming processes, including 33 million pounds of polypropylene and 11 million pounds of ABS, he said.
In February, Allibert purchased the PP and PE vacuum forming plant of a competitor at Le Mans, France, which it is continuing to run.