Months after becoming financially insolvent, Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH of Bonn, Germany, has a new owner.
The extrusion blow mold machinery maker came under control of Chinese investor Jwell Machinery Co. Ltd. through a deal that closed Jan. 1. Terms were not disclosed.
Jwell, in making the deal for Kautex, said "over 50 percent" of employees, or 155 workers, at the company's main location in Bonn were given jobs and all employees at other company sites remain employed. Bonn will maintain a focus on manufacturing, research and development, and service for the company, Jwell said.
A legally separate subsidiary of Kautex in Shunde, China, was not part of the insolvency proceedings initiated in August 2023 in Germany and is not part of this transaction. Jwell, however, said "a deal is within eyesight" for that location.
"Jwell is a strategic fit for us. They have a strong background in plastics machinery manufacturing. They have the financial capabilities to complete [the] Kautex transformation and they are committed to even increase our local manufacturing and service footprint with the target of creating the world market leader within the extrusion blow molding business," Kautex Group CEO Thomas Hartkämper said in a statement.
Kautex has been restructuring through a process known as self-administration in Germany in recent months after declaring insolvency in August 2023. Lawyer Mark Boddenberg from the Eckert law firm was appointed administrator of the case by the Bonn Local Court.
"With the transfer of business operations, the process achieves a quick and successful close, which sets the course for a positive future for the company. The fact that this was possible in the short time ... underlines the effectiveness of the self-governing procedure as an instrument for the remediation and maintenance of companies," Boddenberg said in a statement.
Along with headquarters, operations in Bonn include a customer training center as well as an area called Technikum where machines are developed. Kautex maintains another site in Berlin for sales and service and also has independent subsidiaries in India, Italy, Indonesia, Mexico and Russia.
"The Bonn site ... will continue to operate in full under the new management. As a result of the transaction, a large proportion of the jobs will be retained — a decisive milestone for a stable future for Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH and its workforce," Kautex said in announcing the new owners.
"This not only represents a significant and positive development in economically challenging times, but is above all a strong commitment to the location, to the regional economy and the 155 employees."
Kautex in Bonn becomes Jwell's third production location outside of China, and the company will be positioned as the new owner's premium brand.
Jwell has looked to operate in Germany for many years, the company said, and the acquisition of Kautex will "lead Jwell to become one of the world leaders in the high-end extrusion machinery industry," the company said.
The name of the company now under Jwell control has changed slightly to Kautex Maschinenbau System GmbH.
Kautex was founded in 1935 and by 1954 was manufacturing blow molding machines for containers with a capacity of up to 5 liters. The first exports to the United States happened a year later.
Plastech Beteiligungs GmbH became majority shareholder of the company with a 74.9 percent share in 2018, purchasing the stake from company management and investment firm Capiton AG. Plastech's ownership increased to approximately 93 percent in 2021.
By last summer, the company deteriorated to the point of having to declare insolvency due to what the company at the time said were "a multitude of exogenous factors."
Kautex blamed COVID-19 and China's subsequent lockdown, supply chain difficulties, inflation and a shortage of skilled workers in Germany as key factors creating difficulties. Russia's invasion of Ukraine also created political uncertainties that rippled through the economy to cause problems.