Lubrizol Corp. has signed an agreement to purchase thermoplastic polyurethane maker Merquinsa Mercados Químicas SL for an undisclosed sum.
Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol had competed with Barcelona, Spain-based Merquinsa in numerous markets.
Lubrizol is a global leader in the TPU field through its Estane-brand TPU, which is made by its Engineered Polymers unit.
“Overall, this acquisition allows us to continue to expand our offerings to our customers worldwide,” said Rocco Mango, Estane vice president and general manager, in a Nov. 3 news release.
Privately owned Merquinsa employs about 100 in Barcelona. In the release, company officials said the move ensures that Merquinsa's existing customers will continue to be supplied with the company's products.
Lubrizol spokeswoman Julie Young declined to provide production capacity totals for Merquinsa's Barcelona operations. Industry estimates place the site's TPU production capacity at about 60 million pounds.
Merquinsa is considered a niche player in many markets, but has been successful in the TPU field for about 25 years. The family-owned firm was founded in 1964, originally making PVC and acrylic resins. Merquinsa switched over to adhesive TPU production in the mid-1980s and added elastomer TPUs in 1996.
Lubrizol makes TPU at four sites worldwide: Avon Lake, Ohio; Wilmington, Mass.; Oevel, Belgium; and Shanghai. Lubrizol's Young said the Oevel site won't be affected by the acquisition of Merquinsa.
“At this time, we expect that all of our TPU manufacturing sites will play an integral role in ensuring that Lubrizol meets the needs of its global customers,” she explained in an e-mail.
TPU, chlorinated PVC and related products accounted for almost 30 percent of Lubrizol's $5.4 billion sales total last year. Earlier this year, the firm was acquired by financial firm Berkshire Hathaway Inc. for $9.7 billion.
North American TPU demand is expected to grow 6-7 percent this year, with a global growth rate as high as 8-9 percent, according to industry sources.