ITW purchases ALMA

Meg Villeneuve


FRANKFURT, GERMANY—At the fourth annual CleanRooms Europe, cleanroom products manufacturer, ALMA Inc. (Palm Springs, CA), announced that as of July 2, 2001, they became a division of Illinois Tool Works (ITW; Glenview, IL.) Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

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Dennis Baldwin, senior vice president of ALMA's sales, called the merger an excellent fit. “With ITW's decentralized operating philosophy and substantial financial backing, ALMA will rapidly advance its production of sales without compromising its high standards of quality and customer satisfaction,” says Baldwin.

ALMA manufactures adhesive coating technologies used in high-tech operations, manufacturing and industrial plants, office buildings, medical and pharmaceutical facilities and family residences.

According to ITW, the company does not plan to move the company from its Palm Springs location. For ALMA, this means business as usual.

With the merger, ALMA will become one of more than 600 companies that operate independently under the ITW umbrella, the fourth with a true contamination control focus. Over the next year, ITW says it plans to acquire some 35-40 companies in various markets.

How many of those acquisitions will happen in the cleanrooms segment is yet to be seen. However, according to Dan Miller, president of ITW's contamination control group, the cleanroom market is high on ITW's wish list. “We are looking for companies on the consumables side,” says Miller. “Our goal is to acquire companies that are established leaders in their market. We don't [usually] buy companies that need to be turned around.”

The ALMA announcement comes on the heels of ITW's recent acquisition of The Texwipe Company, a deal inked during the same week ITW announced its agreement with ALMA. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed at press time.

While the sale of Texwipe is big news in the cleanrooms industry, the announcement that broke in June hardly caught the industry by surprise. “In order to grow the business, we felt it would be advantageous to search for a strategic partner,” says William Paley, president of Texwipe. “After careful consideration, the ITW acquisition provided an excellent opportunity to reach this goal.”

“The acquisition certainly gives us more critical mass in the wipers and swabs side of the market,” says John Brooklier, ITW's vice president of investor relations.

ALMA joins wiper and swab manufacturer Texwipe, static control equipment maker SIMCO, and swab manufacturer Coventry under ITW's current contamination control umbrella.

ITW, is a $10-billion, 600-company conglomerate with 55,000 employees worldwide. For its first quarter of 2001, the company saw net income of $182.8 million, a decline of $36.3 million from the same period a year ago.


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