Keter Plastics Ltd. of Herzliyya, Israel, has made a bid to acquire part or all of U.S. home storage staple Rubbermaid, according to Israeli business journal Globes.
``I do know that there is no answer yet'' on the bid, said Vered Sharon-Rivlin, the Globes reporter who interviewed Keter Chief Executive Officer Sami Sagol two weeks ago. Sharon-Rivlin said in a July 15 telephone interview that Keter is considering several combinations that may include parts or all of the business.
Keter officials did not return several calls seeking comment, and Susan Masten, public relations director for Rubbermaid parent Newell Rubbermaid Inc., said July 14, ``It's company policy that we don't comment on rumors and speculation.''
According to Globes, Keter is angling to become a global housewares manufacturing juggernaut, positioning itself to acquire several companies worldwide. Keter was negotiating with Apax Partners, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Citibank for financing.
The family-owned firm also was considering a financial partner. Sagol also told Globes that Keter was mulling the acquisition of garden furniture firm Syroco, owned by Fiskars Brands Inc. of Madison, Wis. Officials from Fiskars would not comment.
``Last year, we saw that Keter's profitability enabled growth, so we formulated a strategy to acquire companies in financial distress caused by a loss of competitive edge,'' Sagol said in the July 13 Globes story. ``We decided to move their production activities to Israel.''
To officials in the plastics industry, Keter's move makes sense.
``I can't imagine a better time for Keter to come at Newell,'' said one plastics industry source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ``It's an incredibly straightforward scenario at this juncture. Newell does not have a business model that works.
``I am truly excited with someone as big as Keter stepping forward. I think if anyone is going to be able to do combat with the likes of Wal-Mart worldwide, it's going to take someone with a global appetite and position. Right now, I don't see Newell able to deal with the likes of Wal-Mart.''
Officials of Sandy Springs, Ga.-based Newell have vowed to improve the business by shedding low-margin product lines. But the source questioned Newell's ability to turn Rubbermaid around.
``With a product like housewares, what is profitable and not profitable changes with the price of resin,'' the source said. ``They've lost their competitiveness across the board, not just in low-end products.''