Freedom in receivership, seeking buyer
Janesville, Wis.-based PVC pipe and fittings maker Freedom Plastics Inc. is in court-supervised receivership and is being shopped to prospective buyers.
The company, which continues to operate three plants and employ 155, plans to sell itself by the beginning of March.
Company officials cited ``a dramatic downturn in the construction industry and severe fluctuations in PVC resin prices'' as the primary factors in the decision to sell, according to a Freedom news release.
Freedom operates extrusion plants in Janesville and Fort Pierce, Fla. The company also operates fittings plants in Preston, Idaho, along with a second Janesville facility as part of a joint venture with Tigre SA, a $1 billion pipe and fittings manufacturer based in Joinville, Brazil.
Attorney Michael Polsky, of Milwaukee-based law firm Beck, Chaet, Bamberger & Polsky SC, is Freedom's receiver. Polsky is working with Chicago-based investment bank Lincoln Partners on the sale.
Both strategic buyers in the pipe industry and private equity groups are exploring a potential purchase, Polsky said in a Feb. 5 telephone interview.
``The company will continue to operate as-is until that sale is completed,'' he said.
Freedom operates state-of-the-art plants, he said, suggesting that there is more value in keeping the company and pipe-making operations running, than in breaking it up and selling various assets.
Freedom has 28 PVC pipe extrusion lines. The company claims it was the first ISO-certified supplier of PVC pipe and fitting in the United States.
The receivership is being overseen by the Circuit Court of Rock County, Wisconsin.
Price-driven competition combined with free-falling resin pricing near the end of 2008 created a brutal environment for pipe and conduit extruders as they were forced in some cases to sell pipe for 20 cents less per pound than they paid for the resin to make it.