CHICAGO, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A. Finkl & Sons Co., a specialty steel forging company on Chicago's North Side, today announced it has signed an agreement to be acquired by SCHMOLZ+BICKENBACH AG, a leading global producer of high-grade steels headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany. With the acquisition of Finkl, SCHMOLZ+BICKENBACH will become the world's largest tool steel producer. Finkl, a dominant presence on Chicago's North Side for more than 100 years, has outgrown its present location and sought a partner with the same commitment to excellence to make the necessary investments in construction of a new plant, the company said in announcing its merger plans. A key benefit of a new facility will be the ability to greatly expand the size of Finkl's facilities, currently about 200,000 square feet under roof. A new plant will allow for contiguous sequential operations in melting, forging, heat-treatment and machining. Those operations are currently disconnected at Finkl's Clybourn Corridor plant. Finkl also has significantly larger electricity needs than can be supplied at its North Side location. One plan under consideration is to relocate Finkl to Chicago's South Side at the site of the former Verson Steel plant on E. 93rd St., which has 500,000 square feet of vacant manufacturing space. Finkl acquired the 44-acre site last June. Another option under consideration for Finkl is to move to a 46-acre site in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, adjacent to a steel plant that Finkl purchased in 2004, Sorel Forge. The Canadian site, which Finkl has under contract, formerly housed a Slater Steel plant. "Finkl has been a Chicago company since it was founded in 1879 by Bavarian immigrant Anton Finkl. With the help of the City of Chicago, and our skilled workforce, we have been able to remain in Chicago and grow our business over the past two decades. Over that time, our sales have grown from $40 million to more than $260 million this year," said Joe Curci, president of A. Finkl & Sons. "Our strong preference is to remain in Chicago, and we look forward to working with the City and the State of Illinois in exploring the potential of a new plant on the South Side," Curci said. The decision on where to relocate will be made in consultation with existing management and the new owners, said Curci, adding that the subsequent disposition of the North Side property would be subject to future discussions with the City of Chicago. Finkl, with 900 employees worldwide and 350 in Chicago, is North America's premier producer and global distributor of hot work die steels, plastic mold steels and custom open die forgings. The new facility will more than double the company's manufacturing capacity, which is required to support its existing product lines and allow for expansion into new markets and the global marketplace. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2007, with construction of a new integrated steel works commencing shortly thereafter once the site selection is finalized. SCHMOLZ+BICKENBACH has consolidated sales of approximately EUR 3.5 billion ($4.7 billion) and 10,000 employees. The company is the world's largest producer of stainless long products with a global distribution network on all continents
SOURCE A. Finkl & Sons Co.