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Ansell gains new ground in protective gear sector

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ISELIN, N.J.—Ansell Ltd.'s presence in the protective gear industry is growing rapidly.

The company acquired Hercules Equipamentos de Protecao Ltda. of Brazil in late December for about $77 million to expand its personal protective equipment production operation.

The transaction is the second the company has made in the protective gear sector in the last seven months.

Hercules is a leading Brazilian manufacturer of a variety of personal protection production products, including gloves, for the military and first responders, Ansell said.

The firm has a plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that employs about 350, a spokesman said, and has annual sales in the $30 million range.

In addition to gloves and gear for the military and first responders, Hercules makes molten metal protection garments and fall protection equipment. It also serves the construction, mining, and oil and gas industries.

Ansell plans to retain Hercules' present management team “and augment as necessary with other leaders,” according to the spokesman.

The debt-free purchase is being funded out of the company's available cash and credit facilities.

“Hercules is an excellent company with a strong management team and a well-recognized and trusted brand in Brazil's large and growing PPE market,” according to Magnus Nicolin, CEO and managing director of the Iselin-based glove and condom maker.

Acquiring Hercules “represents another strategic milestone in Ansell's journey of expansion into attractive adjacencies, with a further investment in protective clothing” he said.

It enables Ansell to better serve several key industries, including construction, military, first responders, mining, and oil and gas, Nicolin said, “and at the same time strengthens our presence in one of the world's major emerging markets.”

The protective clothing operation is a solid complement to Ansell's glove business, the spokesman said, and fits well with the firm's mission to provide a variety of protective offerings to its customers.

Initially, Hercules will continue to focus on Brazil's large market, he said.

Although its glove business is smaller than Ansell's in Brazil, he said, it provides complementary products that will strengthen Ansell's local presence in the country.

Ansell's latest acquisition follows its purchase of Trelleborg A.B.'s high-technology protective products business, with annual sales in the $25 million range, for about $32 million in the second quarter of 2012.

Ansell and Trelleborg also entered into a five-year pact under which Trelleborg will supply polymer-coated fabrics to Ansell.

The business, with about two-thirds of its sales in Europe, is based in Stockholm, Sweden. It operates a manufacturing facility in Lithuania, with sales offices in the U.S., Norway, Sweden, Dubai, Russia, Singapore and China.

It produces high-end chemical protective suits, professional diving drysuits, escape hoods and tent/shelters for the aerospace, military, first responder and industrial markets.

In a non-related move, Ansell Healthcare Products L.L.C. has acquired virtually all the assets of Preferred Surgical Products L.L.C. for an undisclosed amount.

The Ansell Ltd. business bought the privately held developer of technology and producer of products used for infection prevention because the firm's “technology fits well within our Sandel brand of health care safety devices” and expands Ansell's safety offerings, according to Anthony Lopez, president and general manager of Ansell Medical Solutions.

The transaction closed Dec. 31.