Exopack LLC, a flexible packaging company split between plastic and paper, is being showcased by its equity-firm owners to potential suitors, joining a growing list of large processors on the sales block.
The Spartanburg, S.C.-based company was formed in 2001, when former owner International Paper Co. of Stamford, Conn., spun off its flexibles business. Now, less than four years after buying the operation and renaming it, Houston-based equity firm Sterling Group LP has Exopack back on the market, according to three sources familiar with the process.
Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray & Co. has been retained to shop the company, and presentations have been made to potential buyers, according to those sources. The first round of bidding is expected within the next few weeks. Interest is expected from competitors and equity firms.
Exopack recorded about $500 million in 2004 sales, with about one-third of that from film extrusion, according to Plastics News estimates. The company has seven film-making plants in the United States and Canada and employs about 400.
The company hiked its plastics operation significantly in 2003, when it purchased four plants formerly owned by Plassein International Corp. Exopack also bought stand-up pouch maker Specialty Films & Associates of Hebron, Ky., in 2002.
According to sources, Exopack has faced profit-margin issues, not unlike those at other film companies attempting to manage resin-price increases.
``They're a bit tired of dealing with all the ups and downs and think another owner may be better for the company,'' said one source close to the proposed sale.
Exopack extrudes and converts film and shipping sacks for such industries as pet food, lawn and garden, consumer products, agricultural and chemicals. The company's largest business is in multiwall paper bags.
Officials with Exopack and Sterling did not return telephone calls.
Ex-Pliant Corp. executive Stanley Bikulege replaced Exopack President and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Woods in March 2004.
A raft of large packaging properties are currently for sale, according to investment banking sources. Blow molder Liquid Container LP/Plaxicon Co. of West Chicago, Ill., is mulling over a first round of bids, sources said. The company pulled itself from the market earlier this year and then decided to seek a sale again, sources said.
Liquid Container is owned by an investment group that includes Mid Oaks Investment LLC of Buffalo Grove, Ill., and Denver-based Gallagher Enterprises LLC.
And Philadelphia-based Crown Holdings Inc. wants to sell its remaining global plastics business, an assortment of closures and health and cosmetic containers, sources said. That business recorded $907 million in sales last year, while Liquid Container's sales were close to $270 million.
In May, Tyco International Ltd. of Pembroke, Bermuda, also announced that it wanted to sell its plastics operation. A company spokesman said in June that Tyco now will sell its injection molded garment-hanger business separately from its film and adhesives operations. The hanger business operates under the A&E Products name.