New York investment firm Fine Capital LLC has acquired a stake of almost 6 percent in leading compounder PolyOne Corp.
Officials at Fine Capital declined to comment on the investment. The firm was launched in 2005 by Debra Fine, a former executive with financial firm Loews Corp. of New York. Fine Capital previously owned a sizable stake in plastics machinery leader Milacron Inc. of Cincinnati.
In an Oct. 22 phone interview, PolyOne Chief Financial Officer Robert Patterson said that Fine Capital officials have ``given no indication'' they want to be actively involved in managing Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne.
``Fine Capital has been supportive of our [chief executive officer], Steve Newlin, and of our transformation process,'' Patterson said. ``We're happy to have them as an investor.''
Patterson added that Fine Capital now is one of PolyOne's 10 largest shareholders, but is not the largest. ``I think [Fine Capital] believed that our stock price was undervalued and that we represented a good buying opportunity,'' he said.
Fine Capital also owns a stake of more than 3 percent in boat manufacturer Brunswick Corp. As of June 30, Fine Capital's largest holdings, based on percentage, were telecommunications firm IDT Corp. (21 percent) and direct-to-consumer retailer ValueVision Media Inc. (10 percent).
Fine Capital's investment in PolyOne marks the third time in four years that an investment firm has taken a major position in a large North American compounder. In 2005, Barington Capital Group LP acquired 5 percent of A. Schulman Inc. Ramius Capital Group LLC then acquired a stake of almost 8 percent in Schulman in 2007. Both Barington and Ramius applied pressure for Schulman to make changes, leading to the closure of several plants and the departure of CEO Terry Haines earlier this year.
In late July, PolyOne said it would close eight production sites by mid-2009 as a result of reduced end-market demand. Sales in the first half of 2008 jumped 8 percent to almost $1.5 billion vs. the year-ago period, while first-half profit soared to $15 million vs. $2 million in 2007.
PolyOne holds about 9-10 percent of the North American compounding market. On Wall Street, the firm's per-share stock price bounced between $6 and $8 for much of 2008 before falling under $5 as part of the broad stock sell-off that began in September.