Sarnamotive Blue Water Inc. has a new owner, with private equity group KPS Special Situations Fund II buying the company from its Swiss owners.
KPS said it plans to expand and upgrade the North American auto supplier. KPS made the purchase through its affiliate, BWAS Holdings Inc. The sale comes as former Blue Water owner Sarna Polymer Holding Inc. itself may be bought by another Swiss chemical firm.
The deal, announced Sept. 29 for an undisclosed amount, turns the Marysville, Mich.-based injection molder over to financial buyers that specialize in creating stand-alone companies from corporate divestitures, as well as other turnarounds.
KPS officials said the firm will continue operating Blue Water's six Michigan facilities and its Mexico City subsidiary, continue existing customer contracts and invest in new equipment and a plant expansion in Michigan.
Sarna, based in Sarnen, Switzerland, bought Blue Water Plastics Inc. in 2000 with plans to establish the firm as its North American auto supply business.
By 2004, though, Sarna was restructuring and began backing out of the auto industry in favor of its Sarnafil building products division. It put Blue Water on the market in December.
Blue Water molds a variety of interior and exterior components. It had an estimated $145 million in sales last year and posted $76.5 million in sales through the first half of 2005.
New York-based KPS makes controlling equity investments in troubled businesses on behalf of institutional investors. The Special Situations fund invests in manufacturing, transportation and the service industry.
Its other holdings include paper manufacturers Blue Ridge Paper Products Inc. and Blue Heron Paper Co., trucking firm United Road Services Inc. and Americast Technologies Inc., which produces iron and steel castings.
Sarna's board, meanwhile, has recommended its shareholders accept a $380 million buyout offer from Sika AG of Baar, Switzerland. If the deal is approved, Sarna could be a part of Sika before the end of this year.
Both Sarnafil and Sika make PVC and other roof waterproofing membrane materials. The combined operations would include manufacturing facilities in Europe, China and North America.
``Thanks to the combination with Sarnafil, Sika will also become the global market leader'' in roof waterproofing products, said Sika Chairman Walter Gruebler.
Sarna posted $684 million in sales last year. Sika generates about $2 billion in annual sales.
Correspondent Richard Higgs contributed to this report.