* Solo Cup Co. buys Sweetheart Cup Co.
* Blackstone Group buys most blow molding assets of Owens-Illinois Inc.
* Warburg Pincus International LLC buys Clondalkin Group Holdings Ltd.
* Bway Corp. of Atlanta buys North American Packaging Corp. of Raleigh, N.C.
Several blockbuster deals ruled the packaging market in 2004. Highland Park, Ill.-based Solo's purchase of its rival, disposable cup and plate maker Sweetheart in Owings Mills, Md., was a shocker, while the sale of Toledo, Ohio-based O-I's blow molding assets to New York-based Blackstone was anticipated for months. Blackstone is integrating those assets with Blackstone-owned Graham Packaging Co. LP.
Outside North America, the sale of Dublin, Ireland-based Clondalkin to New York equity firm Warburg Pincus was major news. Clondalkin owns film extruder and converter Fortune Plastics Inc. of Old Saybrook, Conn.
Montreal-based Alcan Inc.'s purchase of Paris-based Pechiney Group closed in late 2003, but stock continued to change hands in early 2004. The deal united the aluminum and plastics packaging firms into a joint force.
In film, many smaller and regional deals took place. The rigid plastics market, less fragmented and more monolithic than film, made a few larger deals but not as many, he said. The only exception was protective packaging, a segment continuing to consolidate, Blaige said.
* Cerberus buys Peguform.
* Plastech Engineered Products Inc. of Dearborn, Mich., buys LDM Technologies Inc. of Auburn Hills, Mich.
* Key Plastics buys the auto unit of Zeist, Netherlands-based Kendrion NV.
* Continental AG of Hanover, Germany, buys Phoenix AG of Hamburg, Germany.
* Thomas H. Lee Partners LP of Boston buys Progressive Moulded Products Ltd. of Concord, Ontario.
It was a big year in automotive for acquisitions outside North America. Cerberus bought huge European molder Peguform from Venture Holdings Co. While the Peguform deal technically closed Jan. 1, it ended 2004 on a solid M&A note.
Key Plastics also ventured overseas to buy a large Dutch company, a deal that did not cost Key much for a large company, according to M&A sources. And while European competitors Continental and Phoenix mainly make rubber systems, plastics play a part in those products. That deal was worth about $280 million.
One troubling sign: Custom injection molders still are operating below capacity and having some difficulty selling operations, according to Kolke of GE Commercial Finance. That sector is lagging other processing areas, such as extrusion and blow molding, he said. Many of those firms mold automotive products.
* Caxton-Iseman Capital Inc. buys Ply Gem Industries Inc.
* Quanex Corp. buys Mikron Industries Inc.
* Westlake Chemical Corp. of Houston buys Bristolpipe Corp. of Elkhart, Ind.
* Ply Gem Industries buys MW Manufacturers Inc.
While the building and construction segment might not be the largest, it certainly held its own in M&A activity in 2004. Some of the major deals occurred in the building arena. They included New York equity firm Caxton-Iseman's purchase of Ply Gem and Houston-based Quanex's buy of Mikron in Kent, Wash.
Those are just a few of the many deals in that area.
One can add in the purchase of Maax Inc. by Boston-based J.W. Childs Associates and other investors, and Kearney, Mo.-based Ply Gem's purchase of vinyl window extruder MW Manufacturers, based in Rocky Mount, Va.
Several M&A sources said the sector could slow down a bit if housing prices and interest rates start inching back up in 2005. Transactions may have peaked, but there still is room for more consolidation, they said.
* UTI Corp. buys MedSource Technologies Inc.
* Smiths Group buys Medex Inc.
* Rexam plc buys Plastic Omnium Medical.
It was a fairly soft year for medical- and pharmaceutical-related transactions but it was punctuated by a few large deals.
In May, Collegeville, Pa.-based UTI bought rival MedSource of Minneapolis and crafted a huge medical-device manufacturer with both plastics and metal expertise. Then in December, equity group Smiths of London paid $925 million to buy Medex, a Carlsbad, Calif., device maker that also processes plastic.
And also in Europe, London-based Rexam made a large acquisition of the medical-parts business of Paris-based Cie. Plastic Omnium.
That market should continue to heat in 2005 as the M&A market ramps up, said many experts.
* RC2 Corp. buys First Years
* Spell Capital Partners LLC buys Victor Plastics Inc.
* PlayPower Inc. buys Little Tikes Commercial Play Stations.
* Industrias Vassallo Inc. buys Syroco Inc.
Among consumer deals worth mentioning is the purchase by Oak Brook, Ill., equity firm RC2 of First Years, a maker of infant-care and play products based in Avon, Mass. The company is one of the largest among plastics infant-product makers, with $138 million in sales in 2003.
And speaking of children, St. Louis rotomolder PlayPower bought a Little Tikes division in Farmington, Mo., that makes playground equipment. Parent Newell Rubbermaid Inc. engineered the sale as part of the company's recent downsizing.
Minneapolis-based Spell Capital bough a Victor, Iowa, injection molder of consumer products and off-road vehicles. Syroco, a Syracuse, N.Y., maker of resin furniture and wall-decor products, was purchased by a manufacturer in Ponce, Puerto Rico.