Following what it described as a ``surprising and unexpected'' change in ownership, Kottingbrunn, Austria-based injection press maker Battenfeld Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH on Jan. 3 filed for insolvency.
Battenfeld has notified the Austrian government of the possibility of layoffs, in accordance with Austrian employment law. The firm employs 630 worldwide, including 472 at its headquarters. A news release from Battenfeld, however, said the company ``is making every effort'' to deal with the issue quickly so it can relaunch, possibly with new investors.
Battenfeld was sold in December by its previous owner, Munich-based Adcuram Industriekapital AG, to financial investor OOD Private Equity of London, which was formed in November. Battenfeld employees were informed of the sale by e-mail Dec. 28.
Battenfeld's management seems to have been caught off-guard by the sale. In the news release, it said the insolvency filing had become necessary ``because a surprising and unexpected change in ownership had endangered the existence of the company.''
The release quoted acting Managing Director Georg Tinschert as saying Battenfeld has ``an extremely good product portfolio, a large number of faithful customers, and employees who do their utmost to satisfy the customers. ... The order situation is good: Battenfeld's books are completely filled for the next three months.''
The company expects to report 2007 sales of 85 million euros ($125.1 million).
The news release from Battenfeld said the company was ``obliged'' to file for insolvency because ``an injection of equity capital, which has been needed for some time, has not been provided by either the former [Adcuram] or present [ODD Private Equity] owner.''
Vienna, Austria-based law firm FWP Fellner Wratzfeld Partner has been appointed to advise on the restructuring measures. These actions could include reduction of production costs by concentration on main product areas and increasing added value.
The company added it also wants to regain control of its Battenfeld Service Gruppe service and spare parts service business in Meinerzhagen, Germany, and Kottingbrunn, which was set up in August as a separate company and is owned by Adcuram.
Austrian newspaper Kurier quotes the union representative at Battenfeld saying the news had struck ``like a bombshell, we were nor prepared for it.'' The newspaper also quoted Ernest Gabmann, the industry minister of the state of Lower Austria, who said the problem is that the new owner is not well-known and is keeping its intentions secret.
The sole director of OOD Private Equity named in the United Kingdom register of companies is 31-year-old Matthias Bell, with an address in Munich, Germany.