Battenfeld Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH will be acquired April 1 by Wittmann KunststoffgerÃ¤te GmbH, a family-owned maker of robots, auxiliary equipment and molds.
The deal would create the world's first company ``able to offer a fully integrated product range for injection molding,'' according to both companies.
Battenfeld will continue to make injection molding machines at its factory in Kottingbrunn, Austria. Both companies ``will continue to offer their products and services separately on the world market,'' they said in a news release issued March 14.
Becoming part of a family-owned business will help solidify Battenfeld, said Wittmann's general manager, Michael Wittmann.
``We are a stable company. We don't follow any short-term goals, but we run over the long term,'' he said in a telephone interview.
Other injection press makers use Wittmann's robots and auxiliary equipment. Michael Wittmann wants that to continue, after the Battenfeld acquisition.
``We hope it doesn't hurt our relationship with the other press makers. That is actually what we are hoping for,'' he said. ``We can continue business as usual. The two companies, Battenfeld and Wittmann, will remain independent. The goal of Wittmann is to sell peripheral equipment to everybody, also to the other [original equipment manufacturers].''
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Battenfeld had 2007 sales of about 85 million euros ($116 million).
For Battenfeld and its 630 employees, the sale announcement ends three months of uncertainty.
Battenfeld's current owner, German private equity firm Adcuram Industriekapital AG of Munich, started the roller coaster ride in late December, when it announced that it had sold Battenfeld to another private equity firm.
Battenfeld management responded by issuing their own news release, calling that sale an unexpected surprise that threatened to shut the company down. Battenfeld filed for insolvency on Jan. 3. Then Adcuram canceled the sale. A week later the Austrian government, with several banks, extended credit to keep Battenfeld open for three months.
Reports circulating in the local Austrian media this week suggested that Battenfeld would have faced demise this month without a deal being concluded with a new owner. The reports said there were three candidates among the final bidders.
In 2005, Battenfeld's original owner, SMS GmbH, closed Battenfeld's large-tonnage press factory in Meinerzhagen, Germany. Michael Wittmann said that move was characteristic of problems at Battenfeld.
He said Battenfeld was hurt by ``a little bit too many management changes in the past few years, too many quick decisions.''
Combined, Wittmann and Battenfeld will employ more than 1,500 people around the world, making automation, loaders, granulators, dryers, chillers and water-temperature controllers - and now Battenfeld injection presses. Wittmann also makes specialty molds for in-mold labeling of packaging.
Wittmann still is best known for its robots, but the Austrian company has been diversifying for a decade now, to become a full-line auxiliary equipment maker. It began in 1998, when Wittmann picked up a German resin dryer maker, A. Cramer Trocknerbau. The following year, Wittmann bought Nucon Systems Inc., a Canadian maker of material-handling equipment.
The Battenfeld deal covers the injection molding machinery manufacturing operation in Kottingbrunn, worldwide sales subsidiaries and Battenfeld's service and spare parts business in Meinerzhagen, Germany, and Kottingbrunn.
Georg Tinschert, Battenfeld's managing director, will remain with the company.
The sale has been approved by Battenfeld's creditors. It still needs approval by European antitrust authorities, but Michael Wittmann is not expecting any problems.
Vink is senior editor of European Plastics News, a sister publication to Plastics News.