Crown Cork seeks global gains Balto. unit's link with Va. plant will expand services, firm says

June 12, 1996|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Crown Cork & Seal Co.'s purchase of a French packaging company will make a Baltimore division of Crown a stronger competitor in an international market worth $18 billion annually, company officials said yesterday.

By joining forces, the Baltimore-based Crown machinery division and a Virginia-based subsidiary of the French company will join a few competitors worldwide able to sell all the equipment and services demanded by new bottling and canning plants, said B. Douglas Goodell, vice president of Crown's machinery division.

"This is a marriage of two companies that are meant to be together," said Goodell, who will lead the company's newly named division, Crown Packaging Systems.

Headquartered in Baltimore, the new division has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, about 120 locally, and more than $200 million in sales.

Goodell said the combination will result in few, if any, layoffs in Baltimore. "And there's a high potential for growth," Goodell said, declining to discuss estimates of the company's future employment.

Founded in Baltimore in 1892, Crown Cork was once a major employer here with as many as 5,200 workers during the 1950s. Its headquarters moved to Philadelphia in 1957, and it now employs about 330 workers in the Baltimore area and another 130 on the Eastern Shore.

The company, one of the world's largest makers of bottle tops, metal cans and plastic containers, last year announced its acquisition of CarnaudMetalbox, a major European packaging company based in Paris, in a cash and stock deal valued at $5.2 billion.

In interviews yesterday, company officials said the purchase allows the combination of Crown's machinery division and Lynchburg, Va.-based Simplimatic Engineering Co., a subsidiary of CarnaudMetalbox.

Crown's machinery division designs and manufactures can- and bottle-filling equipment and mixing systems for beer and soft drinks -- known as the wet side of the business. Simplimatic makes conveyor systems as well as machinery that unloads, stacks and unstacks containers -- known as the dry side.

Goodell said yesterday that the combination makes Crown one of five companies worldwide -- and the only one in the United States -- capable of meeting strong international demand for drink manufacturing machinery.

Before the combination, Crown machinery had five locations in three countries. With Simplimatic, that's up to nine locations in five countries.

"This combination accelerates the globalization and potential growth of the business," Goodell said. "We expect a significant increase in volume."

Goodell said the new division can also take advantage of outsourcing by large soft drink and beer companies, which increasingly rely on companies like Crown to provide engineering services as well as sales.

Goodell and his Virginia counterpart, James W. Parker, executive vice president of Simplimatic, said the new division is well-equipped to take advantage of demand for soft drink machinery in Asia and South America.

"The equipment that we didn't have in our offering is supplied by the Crown machinery division," Parker said. "We couldn't have asked for a better fit. Our product lines complement each other." Pub Date: 6/12/96

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