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UCB films business sold to private consortium

A consortium led by private equity house Candover and former Hays Chemical Distribution md Dennis Matthewman has agreed to acquire the films business of Belgian pharmaceutical and chemicals company the UCB Group for €320m in cash.

Completion is expected in September.

Cumbria-headquartered Surface Specialties UCB (formerly UCB Films) manufactures specialist oriented polypropylene (OPP) and cellulose (Cello) films, employing 1,600 staff at two sites in the UK, one in Belgium, one in Australia and one in the US.

Its OPP division makes speciality packaging products targeted at high growth niche markets, while the Cello division is currently launching a range of biodegradable food packaging and transparent beverage labels. The business had a 2003 turnover of €362m.

The acquisition includes a 50% equity in Securency Pty, which manufactures Guardian high security substrates for polymer banknotes and materials for government security documents worldwide.

Surface Specialties UCB’s Wigton, Cumbria HQ employs 838 staff, focussing on OPP film manufacture and r&d, while the 241-strong Bridgwater plant produces mainly cellulose films.

The new company, which will continue trading under the same name for the time being, will be chaired by Dennis Matthewman, and run by the existing management team.