PITTSFIELD -- Neenah Paper Inc. is "very excited" about acquiring Crane & Co.’s technical materials division, according to a company spokesman, and believes its expertise will fit in well with the Georgia-based company’s capabilities.

"Neenah is interested in going out and expanding our technical products segment," said Bill McCarthy, Neenah’s vice president of financial analysis and investor relations.

Neenah’s filtration business is located in Germany, McCarthy said, so Crane’s geographic location made sense as well.

"This is a good fit all around," McCarthy said.

On Thursday, Crane reached an agreement to sell its Pittsfield-based technical materials division to Neenah for $72 million. The sale is expected to close in early July.

McCarthy reiterated what Crane had reported on Thursday -- that Neenah plans to retain all of the division’s roughly 100 employees who are based at two manufacturing facilities in Pittsfield.

In 2007, Neenah purchased the Rising Paper Mill in Housatonic from the Fox River Paper Co. as part of a four plant transaction, then closed the facility two weeks later eliminating 137 jobs. Neenah sold the vacant mill to the Hazen Paper Co. of Chicopee a year later.

McCarthy emphasized that would not occur with Crane’s technical materials division.

"They are completely different businesses," McCarthy said. "Crane is positioned in growing markets. The paper market has been shrinking for years.


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"There are no plans for those type of changes," he said. "As Crane continues to grow, we will continue to add people up there."

A publicly traded company based in Alpharetta, Ga., outside of Atlanta, Neenah Paper has net sales of $850 million and 1,875 employees. Its products are sold in 70 countries. Neenah acquired its technical product operations in 2006, McCarthy said. Those operations are one of Neenah’s two prime business segments, along with premium fine paper.

Neenah’s technical products division makes specialty, performance-based products for filtration, industrial backing, labels and other specialties, according to the company’s website. Categories include transportation and other filter media, such as specialty tape, label, abrasive, medical packaging, nonwoven wall coverings and image transfer and customer-specific applications in furniture veneer backing and durable print and cover applications.

Crane placed its technical materials division, which dates back to the 1950s, on the market in February following a comprehensive strategic review that the company undertook in 2013.

Due to the significant consolidation around large global companies in the technical materials industry sector, Crane officials have said that selling that part of the company would allow that division to be part of a larger entity with a broader portfolio, and the technical resources to accelerate its growth. Crane’s technical materials division has annual sales of approximately $50 million, according to Neenah.

According to its website, Neenah’s technical products division is focused on categories where the company believes it is either a market leader or has a competitive edge.

"This acquisition clearly fits our strategy of expanding in profitable, performance-oriented markets with above-average growth rates, and provides a U.S. filtration presence that nicely complements our German-based filtration business," said Neenah’s CEO John O’Donnell in a statement.

"More importantly, CTM brings new technologies that provide a platform for future growth and increase our ability to be a global supplier of choice for our companies," he said.

Neenah and Crane have another partnership involving their paper divisions that began in 2007, and was extended in 2009. But McCarthy said that prior agreement had no bearing on this transaction.

"They’re completely separate businesses," he said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com
(413) 496-6224