Fast-growing pharmaceutical packaging firm Gerresheimer Group GmbH, which until now focused chiefly on glass containers, has leapt into plastics with its purchase of top European drug-delivery-system molder Wilden AG of Regensburg, Germany.
Injection molder Wilden runs about 450 presses at eight plants and four joint ventures in two divisions: medical plastic systems and technical plastic systems. The medical division, providing two-thirds of Wilden's 240 million euros ($318 million) in total annual sales, molds pharmaceutical, diagnostic medical and consumer health-care products. Its technical division molds components and assemblies mainly for the automotive sector.
``This is a giant step in our strategy to generate sustained growth through the acquisition of technology and market leaders in the field of [pharmaceutical] packaging and systems,'' said Gerresheimer Chief Executive Officer Axel Herberg.
Family-run Wilden has plants in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Italy, and a U.S. unit in Peachtree City, Ga. Among its joint ventures are one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and another one in Dongguan, China.
The firm employs more than 2,300 and recently consolidated product development, project management and mold making in a new technical center in Wackersdorf, Germany.
Dusseldorf, Germany-based Gerresheimer last year established a significant Asian presence through major U.S. and Chinese acquisitions of glass packaging manufacturers. Gerresheimer earlier bolstered its limited European plastics units with the 2005 takeover of the pharmaceutical container-making interests of Copenhagen, Denmark-based rigid plastics molder Superfos A/S.
Apart from two former Superfos Pharma Division plants in Vaerlose and Haarby, both in Denmark, Gerresheimer's European operations include Bunder Glas GmbH in Bunde, Germany, a molder of polyethylene dropper bottles, sealed and childproof closures and screw caps; and Polfa SA of Boleslawiec, Poland, which makes catheters, transfusion sets and disposable syringes.
Wilden now becomes Gerresheimer Wilden, part of the company's plastics division. With Wilden, Gerresheimer's annual sales will reach 900 million euros ($1.2 billion).
Since 2005, Gerresheimer has been owned by U.S. investment firm Blackstone Group. Gerresheimer now has 31 plants in North America, Europe and Asia and a workforce of 8,500.
Gerresheimer stepped into the Chinese arena last year when it bought a 45.7 percent stake in Beijing Wheaton, a molded glass specialist, now renamed Beijing Gerresheimer.
In mid-2006, the company bought a 60 percent stake in Shuangfeng Group, a Chinese glass-vial manufacturer based in Danyang, north of Shanghai. Shuangfeng runs one plant nearby in Zhenjiang, and a second production unit is under construction.