Wind Point Reasserts Itself In Plastics Industry

Target: The Matrixx Group

Purchase Price: Undisclosed

Sponsor: Wind Point Partners

Seller: Matrixx President and CEO Ray Wright

Financial Advisor: Seller: Trudeau & Trudeau

Legal Counsel: Sponsor: Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP; Seller: Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn LLP

It was rebuffed trying to acquire a specialty plastics maker last year. But Wind Point Partners finally made good on its effort to enter the market.

The firm has acquired The Matrixx Group, an Evansville, Ind.-based plastics-maker that generates about $100 million in annual sales, according to Wind Point Principal Paul Peterson. Wind Point plans to pursue add-on acquisitions.

Matrixx produces made-to-order plastics for OEMs through a process called compounding. Starting with pellets of virgin resins, a heated mixer called an extruder adds flame retardants, impact modifiers and color. Once the process is complete, the compounded resin is shipped in pellet form. Matrixx has seven manufacturing sites—five in the United States and two in Italy. Clients include makers of appliances, automotive components, construction equipment, electronics and power tools.

The deal is Wind Point’s first in plastics, but it’s the second company that it has targeted in the market. In August 2006, Wind Point agreed to acquire the specialty plastics division of Ferro Corp. (NYSE:FOE), an outfit similar to Matrixx. Ferro terminated the deal in October, weeks before the deal was scheduled to close. “We did not feel that we could reach an agreement that provided Ferro shareholders with the full value of this business,” said Ferro President and CEO James Kirsch at the time. Ferro still holds the division.

Wind Point quickly turned its attention elsewhere. In November, Norwell, Mass.-based investment bank Trudeau & Trudeau Associates Inc. brought the Matrixx deal to the firm, in a limited auction. The deal closed March 8.

Equity came from Wind Point Partners VI LP, a $700 million fund that closed in 2005 and is now about 25 percent invested, Peterson said. GE Antares served as the lead arranger of senior, cash flow-based financing for the deal, with CIT Sponsor Finance and Merrill Lynch Capital also participating. Mezzanine debt came from MCG Capital Corp.

Any add-on acquisitions will compliment organic expansion on the East Coast, where the company is readying a manufacturing plant in Roanoke, Va. Meanwhile, Matrixx’s Italian subsidiary may acquire an operation in Asia, as well expand more locally, Peterson said.

Part of Wind Point’s strategy is to bring a new CEO to every company it buys. Matrixx CEO and largest owner, Ray Wright, retired from his post following the close. So did Matrixx co-founders Charles Farmer and James Pender.

Wind Point replaced Wright with Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, a 30-year veteran of specialty materials company Rohm and Haas Co., where he most recently served as COO. He is now chairman and CEO of Matrixx. Keith Rodden, formerly Matrixx’s COO, has assumed the role of president.—A.N.