Mitsubishi Corp. of Tokyo is combining two of its U.S.-based plastic sheet assets through Aristech Acrylics LLC's purchase of the assets and operations of Avonite Inc. of Belen, N.M.
In the deal, Mitsubishi, which already owned 60 percent of Avonite, bought the rest for an undisclosed price from the Ross family, which founded the firm more than 20 years ago.
Mitsubishi now owns 88 percent of the combined company, and the Ross family received a 2 percent stake in the new entity as part of the transaction. A third, unrelated firm owns the remaining 10 percent.
In a separate move, Florence, Ky.-based Aristech Acrylics also appointed plastics industry veteran David Knowles as president and chief executive officer.
Both Aristech Acrylics and polyester sheet maker Avonite had been part of Aristech Chemical Corp., but Mitsubishi retained those two units when it sold Aristech Chemical to Sunoco Inc. in late 2000.
The combined firm will have annual sales of about $160 million and will employ around 450, according to a Mitsubishi spokesman. Aristech Acrylics had estimated 2001 sales of about $120 million, according to Plastics News' ranking of North American film and sheet manufacturers.
Knowles is based in Florence, where Aristech Acrylics operates four sheet extrusion lines and employs 300.
The Florence site can produce 125 million pounds of sheet annually and is ``the largest continuous casting facility in the world, home to four continuous casting machines, each longer than a football field,'' according to Aristech Acrylics' Web site.
Avonite can produce 6,000-8,000 polyester sheets per month, which equates to about 11 million pounds of sheet.
All of Avonite's sales are in the solid-surface market, which includes kitchen countertops, wall cladding and decorative furniture.
Aristech Acrylics does about 60 percent of its business in that segment, with the remainder in more commodity-type acrylic sheet used in signage, baths and hot tubs, the Mitsubishi spokesman said.
Knowles' first day in his new position was July 22. Most recently, he led the performance products unit of Honeywell Inc. He also held management positions with color compounder Accel Corp. and M.A. Hanna Co., which now is PolyOne Corp.
Knowles retains an ownership stake in Avon Lake, Ohio-based Accel and remains a director.