Leaders of Battenfeld Kunststoffmachinen GmbH hope to find a new owner for the beleaguered Austrian injection press maker by the end of March.
Georg Tinschert, Battenfeld's managing director, laid out the aggressive timetable in a telephone interview from company headquarters in Kottingbrunn, Austria on Feb. 6 - the day after Battenfeld sent out financial documents and company information to prospective buyers. Officials of the machinery company asked for nonbinding offers within a week.
``So I would say within three to four weeks' time frame, we should be fairly clear who seriously is intending to go with us,'' Tinschert said.
Battenfeld has hired Deloitte & Touche Corporate Finance LLC to compile the book of financial details and manage the sale process. Tinschert said Battenfeld has received about 100 inquiries and has sent the information out to almost that many firms.
``Our goal is to hopefully be able to formally start with the new owner by the first of April,'' he said.
Tinschert said publicity about the Battenfeld saga raised awareness that it would be sold, driving the high level of interested parties.
Battenfeld's current owner is German private equity firm Adcuram Industriekapital AG, which bought the machinery manufacturer in 2006 from SMS GmbH, a German industrial group. Adcuram cut some positions and pledged to invest to turn the company around.
But a series of jarring announcements, starting in December, cast a cloud over Battenfeld. They all came just a few weeks after the company named Tinschert as its top executive, hiring him away from competitor Engel Austria GmbH.
On Dec. 21, Adcuram announced it had sold Battenfeld to London-based OOD Private Equity. Then Tinschert and Battenfeld management issued a news release on Jan. 4, complaining that the ``surprising and unexpected change in ownership had endangered the existence of the company.'' They announced that Battenfeld had filed for insolvency at district court in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.
Adcuram responded by announcing it had canceled the sale, but saying Battenfeld has been in crisis for years, fighting it out on the tough injection press market. Adcuram said the company needed an injection of cash.
Help came on Jan. 10 when the state of Lower Austria, together with several banks, said they extended credit of 15 million euros ($22.8 million), to keep Battenfeld open for three months.
Tinschert said that, despite the chaos, the company never stopped production, although there were some problems getting materials.
``When you open up such a process, everybody just waits and sees how it will continue,'' he said. ``We've been brought back on track in an operational mode. At the moment we are working almost normally.''
Tinschert said Adcuram has decided it wants out of the business of making injection presses. In one news release, Adcuram cited ``ruinous price competition'' for the machines. But Battenfeld management thinks the company deserves to continue as an ongoing business. Tinschert said no jobs were lost, and the company continues to receive orders.
``We see a chance for the future and we are positive that we are back strong in the near future,'' Tinschert said. ``We believe it is justified to have us in the market.''
Battenfeld had sales of about 85 million euros ($116 million) in 2007. The company employs 630 worldwide.