Texstars Inc., a leading maker of plastic parts for military fighter aircraft and tanks, soon will have a new owner from across the pond.
Hampson Industries plc, an aerospace company in Brierley Hill, England, has agreed to buy Grand Prairie, Texas-based Texstars for $41 million in cash, said Hampson Chief Executive Officer Kim Ward. The sale is to be completed in three months, Ward said in an Oct. 28 telephone interview.
The sellers are investment firm American Capital Strategies Ltd. in Bethesda, Md., which purchased Texstars in 2001 for $25.5 million, and members of Texstars' management team. Publicly held Hampson will issue ordinary stock shares to help fund the transaction.
Texstars serves a growing niche market focused on heavily engineered, polymer-based components for defense fighter planes, specialty aircraft and ground-based military vehicles. Capabilities at its two Texas plants include injection and blow molding, thermoforming and composite fabrication.
Hampson will marry that technology with its metal fabricating and machining work. The result will be a firm that can make complete ``kits'' that meld plastic, metal and composite air frames for customers, he said.
The British company plans to shift some metal machining and fabrication to Texas and take plastics and composites technology to its base in the United Kingdom, Ward said. The Texstars team, including recently named President and CEO James Levine, plans to stay on board, he added.
``It's a tremendous fit for us,'' he said. ``We obviously have a European business base, and our three sites in the United States are very small. This gives us a significant footprint in the States with military defense contractors.''
Before the American Capital purchase, Texstars was owned by London investor BBA Group plc.
Texstars is a U.S. leader in polycarbonate canopies, one-piece windshields that wrap around an aircraft and are used on Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-16 Fighting Falcon, Ward said.
The company also makes both PC and acrylic-based anti-ballistic window panels called transparencies, used on armored transport vehicles, Humvees and Striker tanks, Ward said. The company has an estimated 90 percent share of the transparency market for F-16 aircraft.
Other, molded products at Texstar include night-vision goggles, cockpit liners, aircraft seat shells and visors worn by astronauts on the Apollo missions. About 64 percent of Texstars' sales are for military applications, the majority for trans- parencies, according to Hampson.
Texstars recorded sales of about $33 million last year, Ward said. The work is split between plants in Grand Prairie and Arlington, Texas. Together, those sites have about 40,000 square feet of spare capacity, and Hampson would like to fill that space before looking to expand elsewhere, Ward said.
Texstar operates seven injection presses, two accumulator-head blow molding machines and nine vacuum forming stations. It also fabricates parts and makes its own tools. It employs 250.