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Ahlstrom Buys Fiberweb's Consumer Wipes Business



Published April 1, 2007
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Fiberweb has sold its hygiene wipes business Ahlstrom Corporation in a deal that include facilities in South Carolina, Italy and Spain. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close by the end of June and is valued at €65 million. Fiberweb will use the proceeds of the sale to pay off some of its debts.

Daniel Dayan, CEO of Fiberweb, states, “The Hygiene wipes business has been a concern for some time due to low profitability and pricing pressure and we have evaluated all options to address these issues,” said Daniel Dayan, CEO of Fiberweb. “We have already shared with the financial markets and the sites involved that a strategic review of this business was being undertaken and that finding a solution to this problem would be a priority in 2007. Ahlstrom is a leader in wipes and better positioned than Fiberweb to make this a growing and successful business due to its scale and focus in this area. The disposal of this part of our activities will allow Fiberweb to focus on delivering its strategic goals: growing our differentiated Industrial business and investing in the attractive areas of the Hygiene market where we can build strong positions.”
   
Fiberweb acquired the Italian facility from Tecnofibra in 2003 and the Spain site from Tenotex in 2004. The South Carlina plant was built in 2002,  Fiberweb is reviewing options for the Industrial Wipes business, one of which involves the relocation of converting operations from Bethune to its FTC facility in Old Hickory, TN.
   
For Ahlstrom, the purchase will make it the largest supplier of nonwovens to the hygienic wipes market in the world. The move follows the acquisition of Orlandi’s Italian spunlace business in February as well as a new production line in Brazil, which will come onstream early next year. Ahlstrom also operates two spunlace lines in Green Bay, WI geared toward the wipes market as well as a large-scale spunlace composite line in Windsor Locks, CT.
   
“This acquisition further strengthens Ahlstrom’s unique fiber expertise and its versatile technology base. Fiberweb’s leading pulp-containing wipes technology allows Ahlstrom to introduce additional properties, such as enhanced softness and increased strength, to its wiping fabrics.This capability combined with Ahlstrom’s and Orlandi’s pulp-containing technologies positions Ahlstrom the leading supplier of pulp-containing wipes products,” said Claudio Ermondi, senior vice president, Nonwovens for Ahlstrom.