The new owner of blow mold machinery maker Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH will support the firm's growth in packaging and North America's small fuel tank market.
``We see interesting growth prospects,'' said Clemens Busch, a partner in Steadfast Capital GmbH, the Frankfurt, Germany, private equity firm that bought Kautex. Steadfast bought the business from Adcuram AG of Munich, Germany. Busch estimated Kautex's annual sales at about 65 million euros ($86.9 million). Steadfast and Kautex's management team bought all the shares for undisclosed terms, conditional on government approvals.
The companies announced the deal March 16. Busch was interviewed by telephone March 23 from Frankfurt.
Busch said in a telephone interview that although Kautex is best known for technical blow molding of parts such as high-barrier fuel tanks, Kautex has been putting more emphasis on packaging. Meanwhile, the U.S. market has not been as vibrant as in Europe, but Steadfast expects it to get stronger.
Kautex's push into packaging was underlined by its debut at NPE 2006 of long-stroke blow molding machines, according to Kautex Machines Inc. President Wolfgang Meyer. The firm is a North Branch, N.J., subsidiary of Kautex in Germany.
Kautex's new KCC blow molding series is aimed at medium production runs increasingly being demanded for custom bottles. In a March 23 telephone interview, Meyer said the bottle market needs a machine that surpasses those formerly promoted by Kautex, but that makes smaller volumes than the giant machines some competitors sell for long, commodity runs.
North America's large vehicle fuel tank market is pretty much saturated, but Kautex has lots of potential to sell blow molding machines that make smaller, multilayer tanks for such products as lawn and garden equipment, Meyer said. Although the market is developing slowly, it is inevitable that the Environmental Protection Agency eventually will mandate lower emissions for a wider range of machinery.
Steadfast's investment portfolio includes European auto parts injection molder Fahrzeugelektrik Pirna GmbH & Co. KG. Busch said that business will remain separate from Kautex and he foresees no synergy between them.
Busch said Steadfast was impressed with Kautex management and its drive to grow. Adcuram supported Kautex's push to diversify and Steadfast will continue that support while letting management act independently.
Steadfast is the fourth Kautex owner in seven years.