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The Rupp Report: The Consolidation In The Market Goes On

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Already a day before the official opening, the first surprise was announced at ITMA 2011 in Barcelona: The management of Savio announced that Itema Spinning — which was, up until now, part of the Italy-based Itema Group, comprising Itema Weaving, Itema Knitting, Itema Spinning and Itema Electronics — was sold to a European Equity group named Alpha. The sale comprises the companies Savio Macchine Tessili S.p.A.; Loepfe Brothers Ltd.; BMS Vision; Eutron S.p.A.; and Sedo Treepoint.

Alpha clearly states that it is not the kind of investor that buys and sells in only a short period of time. The strategy is to invest in long-term activities to reshape and further increase the value of the companies; and, of course, to generate additional shareholder value.

On the other hand, as the Rupp Report was told, the Itema Group now is concentrating on its core business, the production of weaving machines.

Andritz Acquires NSC nonwoven
Other news announced at ITMA with quite some effect at the show: the acquisition of France-based NSC nonwoven by Austria-based Andritz Group. Andritz signed a contract to acquire NSC Group's nonwoven division, including its affiliates Asselin-Thibeau in Elbeuf, France, and NSC Wuxi in Wuxi, China. The acquired companies have some 200 employees and generate aggregate annual sales of approximately 40 million euros, Andritz reports. The companies did not disclose the purchase price. However, the contract is subject to approval by the relevant authorities and is expected to be finalized during the fourth quarter of 2011.

The acquisition makes a lot of sense if one remembers that Andritz had already acquired France-based Perfojet from Rieter Group, Switzerland. In combination with the products and technologies of Andritz Küsters and Andritz Perfojet, the company is said to be able to supply complete nonwoven production lines from fiber to either needlepunched or spunlaced products. The former NSC nonwoven — now Andritz Asselin-Thibeau — supplies systems for drylaid nonwoven production, mainly for textile and hygiene applications. The Andritz pulp and paper business area strengthens and complements its product range accordingly for the nonwovens industry.

More Chinese Shopping
It was announced to the media at ITMA that Fong's Industries Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, would hold a press conference in Barcelona. Fong's recently joined China Hi-Tech Group Corp. (CHTC), serving as the core enterprise of CHTC's printing, dyeing and finishing business. CHTC is a major state-owned enterprise under the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, and it has more than 200 subsidiaries and branch offices worldwide, including five listed corporations — namely, Jingwei Textile Machinery Co. Ltd., Kama Co. Ltd.; Baoding Swan Co. Ltd., China Garments Co. Ltd. and Fong's.

Well, it was a media event not only by Fong's but also by the entire CHTC: And one of the surprises at the press conference was to see the face of Dr. Stefan Schlichter, former director of R&D at Oerlikon Neumag, the nonwovens business unit of Oerlikon Textile GmbH & Co. KG, Germany. These activities were sold to CHTC, and Dr. Schlichter is now the director of the newly formed company in CHTC's portfolio: Autefa Solutions. This includes the three companies Autefa Solutions Germany GmbH; Autefa Solutions Austria GmbH; and Autefa Solutions Italy S.p.A. This acquisition is in addition to the nonwovens equipment that the group already has — such as spunbond, meltblowing, needlepunching and spunlace — that are the core for future nonwovens business.

CHTC said that it is: "manufacturing for customers complete sets of nonwovens equipment for spunbonds, spunlaced, needle punching, through-air thermal bonding, hot-calendering, melt-blowing and compositing. At the same time, while keeping up with the international development trend, we are carrying out research into combinations of composite spinning technology and nonwoven processing technology in order to realize intercrossing and combinations of various processes on the basis of perfecting various single nonwovens processes, thus forming a new generation of complete-set nonwovens equipment."

September 27, 2011