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Story of the year: 1 + 1 = 1.

Story of the Year: 1 + 1 = 1

The year started off ordinarily enough, with typical new product introductions and rising environmental concerns. But soon after the start of the year came German roll goods producer Corovin's continued attempts to sell itself to the highest bidder. This, it turned out, was merely a harbinger of acquisitions to come that would effectively change the face of the worldwide nonwovens industry forever.

Our biggest story of 1990 was, undoubtedly, the continuing acquisition fever that struck the world of nonwovens. The constantly changing international nonwovens scene erupted first in late February with the purchase of the James River Nonwovens Div. by Holzstoff Holdings, of Switzerland, a move that combined three companies (Sodoca in France and Fiberweb AB in Sweden, along with James River Nonwovens) that were a part of Nonwovens Industry's Top 30 Companies review and made them one big happy company known as the Fiberweb Group.

This merger was followed in quick succession by Foss Manufacturing buying Waterbury Nonwovens in a bid to consolidate its position as one of the world's leading needlepunchers; Procter & Gamble entering into joint ventures in Turkey and Spain; Rhone-Poulenc selling off its nonwovens units to Freudenberg and Chemie Linz; Dexter acquiring Storalene to increase its European presence; Courtaulds selling Bonded Fibre Fabric to Lamont Holdings; IFC Nonwovens being acquired by Babykins of Canada in a move involving two nonwovens converters; and, most recently, P&G's merger with Fater in Italy...the list goes on to include machinery and equipment suppliers such as Nordson, Meltex and Honeycomb.

The importance of all of these moves is impossible to overstate. They have, in effect, shifted control of the destiny of the nonwovens industry into even fewer hands. No matter how capable and nurturing those hands are, the simple fact remains that there are fewer producers and converters of nonwoven fabrics, which translates into fewer customers for suppliers, fewer research dollars spent and fewer jobs available in the business.

This merger mania has infiltrated every aspect of corporate life and will undoubtedly affect decision making well into the decade. Interestingly enough, in 1986, a year that saw the Hoechst Celanese merger consummated, the top story of the year in our December issue was "buy, buy, buy," proving that this phenomena is not new and will probably not be going away soon.

Corovin never did find a buyer in 1990, at least not before press time for this issue. Whether it does in the next 12 months will perhaps once again set the tone for 1991. We know a lot of nonwovens companies are ripe for picking and there are a lot of companies out there ready to harvest. Stay tuned.
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Title Annotation:nonwoven fabrics industry mergers in 1990
Author:Jacobsen, Michael A.
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:editorial
Date:Dec 1, 1990
Words:448
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