Fletcher Secures Crane

At the time of going to press, Fletcher Building had acquired more than 90 per cent of takeover target, Crane Group, saying it would move to compulsorily acquire the remaining shares. Fletcher CEO Jonathan Ling said the deal was “a game changer, like Laminex was in 2002″.

“It starts to give us some real critical mass,” Ling continued. “We are the biggest building materials business in Australia and New Zealand.” With Crane under its belt, Fletcher is now bigger than Boral and CSR, and for the first time, the New Zealand-listed company would generate more revenue in Australia than in its home base.

Ling talked of further expansion and outlined a $200 million capital expenditure programme for Formica Southeast Asia, pushing further into China and Malaysia. Fletcher wants to build at least two new high-pressure laminate plants to make products for new hospitals, hotels, supermarkets and fast food chains, including McDonald’s and Starbucks. Ling said that once integration was completed in about two years, Fletcher’s global employee base would rise from 17,000 to just over 21,000.

Crane, owner of 220 Tradelink plumbing outlets and buyer of Hudson Building Supplies late last year, will eventually be delisted from the ASX and its Sydney headquarters integrated into Fletcher’s office at Chatswood’s Zenith Centre. Ling said the plastic pipe market had big potential in big Australian irrigation projects, encasing fibre-optic cables for broadband and in the energy sector to take coal seam gas from the resource to distribution. He added that the Tradelink retail network would enable Fletcher to sell more Laminex, Stramit, Oliveri and Rocla product and was a key to distribution in Australia.