STOCKHOLM, Sweden—Hexpol A.B., the world's largest rubber compounder, has acquired Robbins Holdings Inc., one of its biggest rivals.
Malmo, Sweden-based Hexpol said it paid $89.2 million for Robbins, of Muscle Shoals, Ala., which also manufactures curing envelopes for the retread industry. It follows a series of Hexpol acquisitions since 2010 in the compounding field, including Excel Polymers, the onetime British Vita P.L.C. thermoplastic elastomer operation and TPE compounder Horst Mueller Kunstoffe GmbH & Co. K.G.
"The acquisition is a very good complement to Hexpol Compounding and broadens our presence with rubber compounds into end user markets like agriculture, mining, oil and gas," said Hexpol CEO Georg Brunstam. "It also brings a global leadership in molded envelopes and curing tubes to the tire industry."
Robbins—which was purchased in 2007 by private equity company Grey Mountain Partners—has estimated annual sales of about $100 million, employs 240 and operates three factories in Findlay, Ohio; Tallapoosa, Ga.; and Muscle Shoals. Besides compounding, it produces molded envelopes and curing tubes for truck, heavy equipment and airplane tires.
Hexpol estimated Robbins' pretax operating income margin is slightly lower than its own but said it expects Robbins to have a positive impact on its earnings from the start. Hexpol will start integrating Robbins in December.
The acquisition is on a debt-free basis and funded by a combination of cash and existing bank loans, Hexpol said.
Hexpol has annual sales of $1.11 billion and production in nine countries on three continents. Polymer compounding comprises 90 percent of its sales, with molded rubber and plastics products—including elastomeric forklift tires and wheels—accounting for the rest.
Robbins was founded in 1921 by Stanley Robbins as a manufacturer of inner tubes. The company, known as Robbins Tire & Rubber Co., was purchased by Poncet Davis Sr. in the early 1940s. He broadened the company's scope into tread rubber and curing tubes in the 1950s as demand for tubes started to drop and tubeless tire technology took hold.
Robbins acquired Ultima Rubber Co. of Social Circle, Ga., in 1994 and moved all tread rubber manufacturing to Social Circle. In 1995, Robbins sold its inner tube manufacturing equipment to Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and branched into custom mixing.
Two years later Robbins sold the Social Circle plant to Goodyear but retained the custom mixing customers.
In 2002 Robbins purchased the assets and technology of Presti Rubber Products Inc. of New Britain, Pa., a producer and distributor of retreading envelopes for light truck through larger off-the-road tire envelopes. The Presti business was relocated to the Muscle Shoals plant.
Robbins expanded the custom mixing business in 2004 with the addition of a plant in Tallapoosa, Ga. In 2009, it acquired the Findlay facility from Biltrite Group.