The acquisition will give Berry Plastics increased access to the global hygiene and healthcare markets and lessen its dependence on the food and beverage packaging segment, which comprised about 40% of sales prior to the deal. A reported 57% of Avintiv’s $2 billion 2014 sales were within the health and hygiene categories compared to 10% of Berry’s sales.
Already, Berry and Avintiv share several key customers. In fact nine of Avintiv’s top 10 customers in these segments are also key Berry accounts. Avintiv supplies polypropylene-based nonwovens that act as coverstock and absorbent material in diapers and feminine hygiene items while Berry sells backsheet materials, molded wrapping and fem care applicators to the same markets.
From a supply perspective, the joining of these two companies will create one of the biggest customers of polypropylene resins globally. Together they source just short of two billion pounds of polypropylene annually.
Avintiv’s global scope was also attractive to Berry. With 23 locations in 14 countries and four continents, its global presence far outweighs Berry’s whose sales are heavily skewed toward North America, representing 96% of the total.
“Geographically it is also a big advantage for Berry because Avintiv has a much broader international focus, and we think their leadership in many emerging markets will help facilitate growth,” says Jon Rich, Berry chairman and CEO.
According to company data, 44% of Avintiv’s sales last year were in North America while 26% were in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; 20% were in South America and 10% were in Asia-Pacific. In recent years, Avintiv, which was known as PGI until June, has invested significantly in global markets. Most recently, the 2015 acquisition of Dounor in France boosted its European business while the purchase of Companhia Providencia last year gave it a strong foothold in Brazil. Additionally, Avintiv has made investments or upgrades in China, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Spain and the U.S. in recent years.
Earlier this year, Avintiv said it had filed registration papers to launch an initial public offering of its shares. Its CEO Joel Hackney says the company had worked strongly in this direction until more recently when it became clear that being acquired was another option for its future. "As Avintiv recreated itself as a leader in specialty materials, our team created such momentous growth that not just Berry but many customers recogized this," he said. "Just like the business we have created was attractive to potential investors through an IPO, it became attractive to a strong company like Berry."
Berry also expects to capitalize on synergies with Avintiv beyond healthcare and hygiene. Within the wipes market, where Avintiv supplies substrate fabrics, Berry sells a number of plastic dispensing solutions; while in building and construction, Avintiv’s building wraps and geotextile products will complement Berry’s offerings, which include films and tapes. The one area where the two companies compete is within the medical apparel segment where they both make gowns and masks. However, Avintiv’s role is significantly bigger than Berry's.
“Avintiv has a very diverse product offering into the medical and hygiene spaces,” Rich explains. “One of the things that we are most excited about is the opportunity to deliver solutions to our customers to help them reduce processing time and simplify things.”
For example by merging the sourcing and production of absorbent materials and backsheets in baby diaper manufacturing or creating a marriage between substrate production and dispensing solutions in the disinfectant wipes market, the newly merged company will be offering product solutions to its customers.
As for Avintiv, Hackney is confident it will continue on a similar path under the umbrella of Berry Plastics.
"Our strategy for Avintiv is very straight forward and simple," Hackney adds. "If you consider our strategy to become a leading specialty materials business creating a cleaner, safer and healthier world, our acquistions have helped us accelerate this by not only expanding our scale but also by adding technologies to add specialized solutions. Berry takes this strategy even further and brings even more technology and capabilities and size and reach and so on, when you think about it, our path we’ve been on for the past two years and Berry’s path, it is just accelerating."
With Avintiv, Berry will earn itself a spot on the list of Fortune 500 companies. In 2014, Berry’s total sales were $5.1 billion, earning it a spot at 53 on Fortune’s rankings of companies. After the acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of the year, total sales will be about $7.2 billion, according to Rich who called the acquisition a transformational day for his company.