Managers buy struggling Imco Plastics
GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - Imco Plastics Ltd. of Glastonbury nearly went out of business in the aftermath of a 1998 incident in which three people died of Legionnaires' disease. But now the custom molder has been saved in an 11th-hour management buyout.
The injection and compression molder of appliance, aerospace and automotive components went into administration, similar to bankruptcy in the United States, in mid-October. Earlier that month, Imco was fined £70,000 ($117,000) after admitting that it had failed to maintain the plant cooling system that led to the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. The three who died were among a dozen visitors to a garden center beside the plant.
Early this year, manslaughter charges brought against former Imco Managing Director Michael Lewis were shelved by Bristol Crown Court when he was ruled unfit to stand trial on medical grounds. In October, the High Court in London agreed to lower penalties for two health and safety regulation breaches, on the grounds that a heavier fine could put Imco out of business, according to a police spokesman.
However, administrative receiver KPMG's initial efforts to sell Imco failed, and in early November KPMG said it would close Imco. But four days later KPMG reversed course, saying it had an offer for the company from Avalon Plastics Ltd., a management buyout vehicle.
The company, which runs a tool shop, has 20 injection presses with clamping forces of 30-675 tons, plus 30 compression presses for molding thermosets. Imco employs 120. Keith Butler is managing director of the new ownership group.
GE Plastics joins silicones, quartz unit
PITTSFIELD, MASS. - GE Plastics will be combined with General Electric Co.'s silicones and quartz business to create a new unit called GE Advanced Materials.
The change, effective Jan. 1, was announced by GE Chairman Jeff Immelt in a Dec. 4 e-mail to employees. Overall, Wilton, Conn.-based GE is reducing its 13 business units to 11 in an effort to achieve 10 percent annual profit growth.
``Change can be unsettling, but embracing change is a part of the DNA of GE and our people,'' Immelt said in the e-mail.
The combined GE Advanced Materials business is expected to have annual sales of about $8 billion. GE Plastics is a major producer of polycarbonate, ABS and other specialty resins, and includes the Structured Products sheet and film business and the GE Polymerland resin distribution unit. GE Plastics had sales of $5.2 billion in 2002 and is on track to match that this year. GE Advanced Materials will be led by John Krenicki, a longtime GE veteran who took the helm at GE Plastics in January.
The combined unit will be based in Pittsfield, but the silicones business will retain its office in Wilton and the quartz business will do the same in Willoughby, Ohio.
There are opportunities for the three segments to share business in the automotive and computer markets, said GE Plastics spokesman Bob Hess. Plastics and silicones could overlap in automotive glazing, while plastics and quartz could find common ground in integrated circuits for computers.
Plastics silicones and quartz each will continue to have their own dedicated sales force. No decisions have been made as to potential job cuts resulting from the move, Hess said. Manufacturing sites in the three businesses are not expected to be affected by the change, he added.
Rep. Ballenger won't seek re-election
WASHINGTON - Rep. Cass Ballenger, R-N.C., one of several members of Congress with a background in plastics, announced Dec. 2 he will not run for re-election. Ballenger is chairman and founder of film converter Plastic Packaging Inc. in Hickory, N.C.
Ballenger, who turned 77 on Dec. 6, first was elected to Congress in 1986. He was chairman of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, helped to write President Bush's ``No Child Left Behind'' education legislation, to reform the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and to pass hypodermic needle safety legislation.
He said he wants to spend more time working at his company and with the Ballenger Foundation, a charitable group that works with hospitals in Latin America.
Ballenger's recent tenure in office has been marked by controversial statements. He told the Charlotte Observer in October that he was disturbed when the Council on American-Islamic Relations opened an office on the same Washington street where he lived. He called the CAIR a ``fund-raising arm for Hezbollah,'' and said CAIR's presence contributed to the breakup of his marriage.
The U.S. government has labeled Hezbollah a terrorist group, and U.S. law makes it a felony to raise money for such organizations. CAIR filed a defamation suit against Ballenger on Dec. 3, seeking $2 million in damages.
In 2002, Ballenger drew criticism when he said that an African-American member of Congress, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., gave him ``a little bit of a segregationist feeling.''