The surprise sale of Battenfeld Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH has been reversed, and the injection press supplier is back under the ownership of German private equity firm Adcuram.
Meanwhile, the regional government of Lower Austria has stepped in to ensure the continuation of Battenfeld for at least three months, and an Austrian processor has expressed an interest in buying the company.
The news comes following Battenfeld executives' decision to file for insolvency Jan. 3.
Adcuram announced Dec. 21 that it had sold the Kottingbrunn, Austria-based press supplier to London-based OOD Private Equity. But Battenfeld officials complained that the ``surprising and unexpected change in ownership had endangered the existence of the company,'' and filed for insolvency.
Adcuram responded Jan. 4, saying the sale had been canceled because of ``significant irritation that had been set off and doubts about the purchaser that had been thrown up.''
The government move to support Battenfeld may solve, at least temporarily, one potential problem. Adcuram said Battenfeld needs more than 15 million euros ($22.1 million) of liquidity, adding that its injection press business has been in crisis for years. The firm has been battling with its own structural problems and a highly competitive mass market for its commodity products, resulting in ``ruinous price competition,'' Adcuram said.
In a Jan. 10 statement, local government head Erwin PrÃ¶ll said: ``The state of Lower Austria, together with the banks - lead by the Lower Austria Hypo Bank - has brought together the required credit of 15 million euros. The continuation of the company for the next three months is thereby ensured.''
If the government had not stepped in, Battenfeld would have closed Jan. 11, according to Ernest Gabmann, vice chairman of the Lower Austrian government.
Meanwhile, HTI High Tech Industries AG of Neudoerfl, Austria, has expressed an interest in buying Battenfeld. HTI, a plastics processor that recently purchased a stake in extruder maker Theysohn Extrusionstechnik GmbH of Korneuburg, Austria, sent a letter to Battenfeld's insolvency administrator saying Battenfeld could fit in well within the company.
The government's action means that Battenfeld's 472 employees and 175 suppliers can breathe a sigh of relief. However, Austrian newspaper Die Presse cited on its online issue Jan. 10 that insolvency expert Alexander Klikovits of the Kreditschutzverband (KSV) debt protection agency said creditors may be forced to accept 20 percent of amounts due to them.
KSV said Battenfeld's 1,300 creditors must submit claims by March 18. The firm may have outstanding debt of as much as 30 million euros ($44.2 million), according to KSV.
The company's insolvency administrator will report to district court in Wiener Neustadt on April 1, giving Battenfeld time to find a potential buyer, PrÃ¶ll said. According to Austrian media reports, another potential bidder is industrialist Josef Klaus.
Some observers suggest in the absence of a buyer, government support for Battenfeld may evaporate following March 9 elections in Austria.