British manufacturer Lucite International Group Ltd.
recently was acquired by Japan’s Mitsubishi Rayon
Co. Ltd. for $1.6 billion.
The deal, which was announced by company officials last
month, is expected to be completed in January 2009, pending
As of January 2008, Lucite had 2,000 employees in 14
manufacturing plants across North America, Europe and Asia.
The Southampton, England-based company produces more than
50 percent of the world’s acrylic baths and makes
spa shells for a variety of leading hot tub companies.
The acquisition strengthens Mitsubishi Rayon’s
position in the market, expanding the firm’s
capabilities into three continents. This, in turn, will
allow the company to aggressively pursue business in
emerging regions such as Eastern Europe, Russia and South
“I think it’s a positive for the
industry,” said Mike Dunn, vice president of sales
and marketing at Vista, Calif.-based Watkins Manufacturing
. “From a macro-perspective, it brings stability
to Lucite, which is a good thing, and I believe Mitsubishi
Rayon is very focused on the monomer and acrylics
businesses, so bringing Lucite in is probably a
“Mitsubishi Rayon is obviously a very stable
company,” he added, “so I can’t
see this as being anything but good for
The Lucite pickup is the latest in a string of overseas
acquisitions in 2008 by Japanese companies, which are
leveraging a strong yen to purchase international firms
inexpensively amid a sagging global economy.
Already this year, Japanese firms have totaled $61
billion worth of acquisitions abroad, according to Thomson
Reuters data. The previous record was $44.2 billion, set in
Lucite International, which was born from the acrylic
businesses of DuPont and ICI dating back to the 1930s, has
been majority-owned by private-equity firm Charterhouse
Capital Partners, LLP, since 1999.
The company has long enjoyed a reputation for strong
management and solid personnel.
“I think Chris Robinson and his team have done
a fabulous job running this company over the
years,” said Casey Lloyd, president of Cal Spas in
Pomona, Calif. “I sincerely hope the acquisition
team at Mitsubishi Rayon recognizes the value of the fine
people they have on board because, ultimately,
it’s the people who truly make the