The London-based investment firm holding a controlling interest in hot-runner manufacturer Mold-Masters Ltd. will not confirm a report that 3i Group plc plans to sell the Georgetown, Ontario, firm.
“We don't confirm speculation on potential transactions,” said 3i investor relations director Silvia Santoro in a telephone interview.
“We only publish press releases on actual deals,” Santoro said from London.
The Financial Times of London reported Jan. 10 that 3i has started the process of selling four companies, including Mold-Masters. The report said 3i wants to divest assets, cut staff and close offices, following Europe's financial crisis.
The Financial Times said 3i has hired Morgan Stanley to advise on the sale of Mold-Masters. The newspaper cited undisclosed sources who pegged the possible sale price at C$700 million (US$711.2 million). U.S. buyers could be attracted to the investment opportunity, the newspaper's sources speculated.
3i bought its stake in Mold-Masters in 2007. Since then the hot-runner supplier has expanded aggressively, most recently in China, where in late 2011 it opened an expansion of its Kunshan hot-runner plant. At the time, Mold-Masters President and CEO Bill Barker said Asia is the company's fastest-growing market.
More recently, Mold-Masters reported strong growth during an interview at the Fakuma trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in October. Patrick Bennett, president of the company's European operations, said pent-up demand after the recession let to high growth in 2010 and 2011. Results in 2012 were not as exciting but still healthy, he told Plastics News.
Bennett said automotive, packaging and consumer products were strong growth areas.
At Fakuma, Mold-Masters unveiled new technologies for injection molders using hot runners, including a linear side-gating system, sequential valve-gate controllers and a dual-zone addition to its line of temperature controllers.
Mold-Masters officials were unavailable on Jan. 11 to comment on the Financial Times report of a possible sale.
As reported by Plastics News early last year, 3i acquired a majority interest in cosmetics parts major Geka GmbH of Bechhofen, Germany. Geka injection molds mascara brushes and packaging. At that time, its customer list included Procter & Gamble Co. and Avon Products Inc.
The Financial Times reported that 3i recently sold its remaining stake in Norma, a Germany-based producer of engineered joining products that had been for sale since April 2011. Also on the sale block is Civica, a U.K.-based software maker, and Scandlines, a ferry operator in Denmark and Germany, according to report.
3i is reportedly England's oldest private equity investor, dating back to 1945 when it was established to finance companies hurt by World War II.