By Liz White, ERJ staff
Stockholm-Hexagon Polymers has become the leading rubber compounding business in Europe through its 22 March acquisition of Belgian-based Thona Group, for an undisclosed amount.
Adding Thona's Belgian and Czech capacity of nearly 50 kilotonnes per annum takes the Swedish-headquartered group's capacity for custom rubber mixing to around 100 ktpa in Europe.
The purchase also lifts Hexagon's total global capacity to about 140 ktpa, by adding 40 ktpa from two Thona plants in the US and Canada. In doing this it also fulfils Hexagon Engineering president and ceo Ola RolÃ©n's ambition of gaining a stake in the North American compounding business. In a telephone conference on the deal RolÃ©n said that the Europe is â€œfar more advanced [than North America] when it comes to outsourcing,â€ and that pressure is mounting in the States for higher quality throughout the whole rubber-part making process-especially in automotive supply.
Swedish group Hexagon Engineering, owner of Hexagon Polymers, aims to be No. 1 or No. 2 in its strategic businesses. Hexagon's compounding business started as the Swedish Gislaved Gummi operation, with capacity of around 12 ktpa. In July 2002 Hexagon purchased major German compounder GFD Technology GmbH, with some 40 ktpa capacity. Hexagon has recently added a third line and 10 ktpa at GFD's HÃ¼ckelhoven-Baal site, which is relatively close-some 50 km-to Thona's Eupen, Belgium, base.
The Thona deal awaits approval by the German cartel authority the Bundeskartellamt-expected by 1 May.
Thona's business will become part of a newly created Euro 150-million turnover, 450-employee Rubber Compounding operation within Hexagon, run by president Joachim Grefen, currently ceo of GFD. Grefen will report to Hexagon Polymers' president Lars Olofsson.
The management team who set up Thona in 1991, Christoph NÃ¼tten and Joop Raeven, will remain with the operation till the end of the year to support Thona's integration into Hexagon Polymers.