In the world of plastics mergers and acquisitions, the first half of 2018 was filled with big deals and frequent buyers.
One of the bigger deals was announced in the waning days of 2017 but was completed in early 2018. That's when global investment firm Platinum Equity bought Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. for nearly $4 billion.
Platinum Equity, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., was founded in 1995 by billionaire and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores. Husky, based in Bolton, Ontario, had been owned by Boston-based investment firm Berkshire Partners LLC and the private equity arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
Those two investors had purchased Husky, a leading maker of injection molding machinery, robots and hot runner systems, in June 2011 from Toronto-based private equity firm Onex Corp. for $2.1 billion.
Westfall Technik Inc. led the ranks of frequent buyers, making five deals in the first half of 2018 after making two in late 2017, shortly after it was formed as a holding company.
Chandler, Ariz.-based Westfall in February acquired two California companies,10 Day Parts Inc. of Corona and Elfy's Inc. of Hayward, that offer rapid prototyping and short-run molding for medical, industrial and consumer goods industries.
Both companies bring more than 300 new customer relationships to Westfall. Molding Business Services of Florence, Mass., represented 10 Day Parts, formerly known as Advanced Technology Inc., in the sale.
Westfall in March then added custom molder AMS Plastics Inc. and AMS's maquiladora Operaciones de Clase Mundial SA de CV to its portfolio. AMS Plastics has its business offices in El Cajon, Calif. The 75,000-square-foot maquiladora is located in an industrial park in the Nueva Tijuana colonia in Tijuana, Mexico.
In its fourth first-half deal, Westfall in April acquired injection molder AMA Plastics Inc. of Riverside, Calif. That purchase more than doubled Westfall's volume of injection molding machines. AMA operates 95 presses with clamping forces of 35-720 tons and also does work in multicomponent and vertical molding.
Deal No. 5 for Westfall was its acquisition of NPI/Medical of Ansonia, Conn. Westfall bought NPI/Medical, an injection molder and tool builder, from Tonka Bay Equity Partners LLC of Minnetonka, Minn.
Westfall "is building up an injection molding platform and in aggregate getting to be decent-sized," said John Hart, managing director with P&M Corporate Finance LLC of Southfield, Mich. Blaige & Co. of Chicago also listed the Westfall transactions among their "headline deals" of the first half.
Canadian media and printing conglomerate Transcontinental Inc. made two first-half deals, including its April purchase of flexible packaging giant Coveris Americas for US$1.32 billion. Coveris recorded sales of almost $1 billion last year, making it one of the top 10 converters of flexible packaging and related products in North America.
The announcement came less than three weeks after Montreal-based Transcontinental closed on a deal to buy Multifilm Packaging Corp. of Elgin, Ill. Multifilm specializes in piece-wraps and high-barrier flexible packaging for candy, snacks and dry foods markets. Transcontinental now has made seven deals in flexible packaging since it entered the field in 2014.
Rick Weil, managing director with Mesirow Financial in Chicago, cited the Transcontinental deals as a good example of a firm moving into a different market.
"Their legacy is in Canadian commercial printing, but they've now made some big investments in packaging," he said.
In another major deal, Novolex, the world's largest plastic bag maker, in May diversified into other plastics products when it bought Waddington Group, a maker of disposable food packaging for bakeries, delis and restaurants, from Newell Brands Inc. for about $2.3 billion.
Hartsville, N.C.-based Novolex is owned by investment firm Carlyle Group. The sale marks the first major divestiture by consumer products giant Newell, which is looking to sell a number of businesses — including Rubbermaid — and dramatically remake the company.
Novolex "has all the disposables covered now," Blaige & Co. Chairman and CEO Thomas Blaige said. PMCF listed both the Transcontinental and Novolex deals among their "marquee transactions" of the first half.
Other makers of multiple first-half deals included Masco Corp. and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Masco picked up a pair of Ohio companies: pipe, profile and tubing extruder Mercury Plastics Inc. of Middlefield and Kichler lighting of Independence. Livonia, Mich.-based Masco is a publicly traded holder of a variety of companies geared toward home repair and construction brands, including KraftMaid and Merillat cabinets.
Private investment group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice created a $2.4 billion exterior building products company in January when it bought Ply Gem Holdings Inc. and Atrium Windows & Doors.
Based in Cary, N.C., Ply Gem was already the top building products manufacturer, as well as the second-largest extruder, in North America with estimated sales of $1.5 billion, according to Plastics News' latest ranking. Ply Gem produces a variety of siding, windows, patio doors, cellular PVC trim and moldings, roofing, vinyl fences and rails.
Established in 1948 and based in Welcome, N.C., Atrium makes vinyl and aluminum doors and windows at its main campus as well as sites in Dallas and London, Ontario. Sales in 2017 generated about $350 million.
The Ply Gem deal "wouldn't have happened in an economic downturn, but they're making hay now," Blaige said.
Universal Plastics Corp. in June made its fifth deal in recent years, buying custom thermoformer W. Kintz Plastics Inc. of Howes Cave, N.Y. W. Kintz specializes in heavy gauge, vacuum, pressure and twin-sheet thermoforming to make custom plastic parts used in the medical, transportation and other markets.
In the final days of 2017, Holyoke, Mass.-based Universal bought blow molder Premium Plastic Solutions LLC of Latrobe, Pa. Premium molds large parts for a range of industries, including medical and lawn and garden equipment. Its previous owners were private equity firms CapitalWorks LLC and Little Mountain Industries Inc., both in Cleveland.
Other notable first-half plastics M&A deals included:
• The sale of K'Nex Brands, an iconic brand in the plastic construction toy market, to Basic Fun, a Boca Raton, Fla., toy and novelty company with well-known product lines, including Tech 4 Kids and Uncle Milton. K'Nex was negatively impacted by the bankruptcy of major retailer Toys R Us.
• In an extreme example of a quick turnaround, Alpharetta, Ga.-based Spectrum Plastics Group purchased Fermatex Vascular Technologies Inc. from Vance Street Capital LLC, which had owned the company for only seven months. Fermatex is a supplier of reinforced medical tubing, catheter subassemblies and specialty extrusions.
• In Europe, Bonn, Germany-based blow molding machinery maker Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH was acquired by Plastech Beteiligungs GmbH, an industrial holding company from Vienna. Plastech bought the 79 percent share in Kautex previously held by Berlin investment company Capiton AG, which acquired its interest in the machinery maker in 2013.
• Packaging leader Sigma Plastics Group of Lyndhurst, N.J., kept its multiyear acquisition streak alive by purchasing Poly Pak America Inc. of Los Angeles. Poly Pak extrudes, prints and converts heavy-duty outdoor bags as well as mailers and other packaging. Sigma now has made 13 acquisitions since 2009.