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Retread supplier Robbins sold

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden—Swedish rubber compounder Hexpol A.B. has acquired Robbins Holdings Inc. of Muscle Shoals, Ala., a compounding specialist and producer of curing envelopes for the retread industry, for $89.2 million.

“The acquisition is a very good complement to Hexpol Compounding and broadens our presence with rubber compounds into end user markets like agriculture, mining, oil and gas,” said Hexpol CEO Georg Brunstam. “It also brings a global leadership in molded envelopes and curing tubes to the tire industry.”

Robbins has estimated annual sales of about $100 million with 240 employees in three factories: Findlay, Ohio; Tallapoosa, Ga.; and Muscle Shoals, Hexpol said. Among its products are molded envelopes and curing tubes for truck, heavy equipment and airplane retreads.

Hexpol estimated Robbins' pre-tax operating income margin is slightly lower than its own but said it expects Robbins to have a positive impact on its earnings from the start. Hexpol will start integrating Robbins in December.

The acquisition is on a debt-free basis and is funded by a combination of cash and existing bank loans, Hexpol said.

Hexpol considers itself one of the world's leading polymer groups with annual sales of $1.11 billion and manufacturing in nine countries on three continents. Polymer compounding comprises 90 percent of sales, with molded rubber and plastics products—including elastomeric forklift tires and wheels—accounting for the rest.

Robbins was founded in 1921 by Stanley Robbins as a manufacturer of inner tubes. The company, known as Robbins Tire & Rubber Co., was purchsed by Poncet Davis Sr. in the early 1940s, who broadened the company's scope into tread rubber and curing tubes in the 1950s as demand for tubes started to drop as tubeless tire technology took hold.

Robbins purchased Ultima Rubber Co. of Social Circle, Ga., in 1994 and moved all tread rubber manufacturing to Social Circle. In 1995 Robbins sold its inner tube manufacturing equipment to Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and branched into custom mixing.

Two years later Robbins sold the Social Circle plant to Goodyear but retained the custom mixing customers.

In 2002 Robbins purchased the assets and technology of Presti Rubber Products Inc. of New Britain, Pa., a producer and distributor of retreading envelopes for light truck through larger, off-the-road (OTR) envelopes. The Presti business was relocated to the Muscle Shoals plant.

Robbins expanded the custom mixing business in 2004 with the addition of a plant in Tallapoosa, Ga.

Grey Mountain Partners of Colorado purchased Robbins in 2007.
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