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Sabic’s sale of Polymershapes likely to impact wider distribution market

September 9, 2016 Updated 9/9/2016

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Sabic's sale of Polymershapes likely to impact wider distribution market

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. The Polymershapes business is a major supplier of plastic rod, sheet, tube, film and related products.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic)’s sale of its Polymershapes business to Blackfriars Corp. puts both the No. 1 and No. 2 global player in semi-finished plastics distribution under one owner, according to one industry watcher.

Blackfriars, a private investment firm based in Northbrook, Ill., also owns Laird Plastics Inc.

Mel Ettenson, editor of the Global Plastics Letter, which covers the shapes distribution market, ranks Laird as the top company in the sector, with estimated sales of $ 550 million, and Polymershapes is No. 2, with estimated sales of $ 525 million. The third largest company has sales of $ 325 million, although the shapes market has many smaller regional players.

A Sabic spokeswoman, however, said Blackfriars is operating Polymershapes as a standalone, independent company, not part of Laird.

Sabic did not disclose the transaction price.

Polymershapes is a major distributor of plastic rod, sheet, tube, film and related products. It operates more than 70 stocking locations and serves 35,000 customers. Services offered by Polymershapes include cut-to-size, fabrication, machining and film conversion.

Polymershapes “has been a profitable business for Sabic,” CEO and Vice Chairman Yousef Al-Benyan said in a Sept. 6 news release. “As part of our ongoing effort to actively manage our portfolio, we concluded that this business no longer complements our core strategy.”

Sabic is a major global producer of plastics and specialty chemicals. The firm is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — and is 70 percent owned by the Saudi government — with U.S. headquarters in Houston.

Since 2004, Blackfriars has owned Laird Plastics, a major plastic shapes distributor based in Boca Raton, Fla. Ettenson said in an email that the deal should have a positive impact on the plastic shapes market.

“Distributors not in the tie-up should see healthier — as in more profit-driven — competition and will continue to add value to their offerings,” Ettenson said. “Manufacturers and suppliers may find more purchasing power from the affected distributors, but Blackfriars — in their electrical and plumbing wholesale-distributor businesses — have tended to leave their acquisitions as stand alone.”

Ettenson added that end users of shapes also should notice improved supply chain logistics.

Laird Plastics officials could not be reached for comment.

Sabic Polymershapes is the former GE Polymershapes business, dating back to GE Plastics’ 2001 purchases of Commercial Plastics & Supply Corp. and Cadillac Plastics. Sabic bought the entire GE Plastics business from General Electric Co. in 2007.

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