Sistema sells to US for $660 million

Sistema's Auckland factory (supplied / file)
Sistema's Auckland factory (supplied / file)

New Zealand plastics company Sistema has been sold to a US firm for $660 million, but production will remain in the country for the next few decades.

The company was founded 34 years ago in a Cambridge garage by Brendan Lindsay and the former Tawa College student has agreed to sell the company to New Jersey-based Newell Brands, a Fortune 500 company valued at US$22 billion.

As part of the deal Sistema will continue to make products in New Zealand until at least 2036.

"The growth Sistema has experienced in recent years can be attributed in a large part to the hard work and dedication of our New Zealand and overseas employees," Mr Lindsay said.

"That is why I am absolutely thrilled that Newell has agreed to keep manufacturing in New Zealand for the next 20 years at our recently opened 52,000 square metre manufacturing facility at a green fields site near Auckland airport."

Newell owns brands including PaperMate, Sunbeam, Marmot and RubberMaid.

Its president Mark Tarchetti said Sistema has been on the company's radar for a number of years.

"It is an excellent business and an extraordinary success story," he said.

"We have previously made approaches to the company and are delighted that we have been able to reach an agreement to purchase the business.

"We believe there are some very exciting opportunities for the company and we plan to leverage our position as a Fortune 500 company to provide the platform for further growth for Sistema."

Mr Lindsay will step down as the Managing Director of the business.

The 60-year-old was a chef in the Air Force before he became an entrepreneur, and began by making and selling sizing clips for coat hangers.

From there he began manufacturing coat hangers in his garage in Cambridge.

In 1998 he started manufacturing the 'Klip It' range of food storage containers under the company name of Sistema Plastics Ltd.

He says the company got its break when Woolworths in Australia ordered a shipment of the products and the company now has offices in Australia, the UK, France, Scandinavia, USA and Canada.

"Newell has the expertise and market access that will enable them to take the business to the next level and create new opportunities for the company, especially in North America," Mr Lindsay said.

Earlier this year Sistema was criticised by the E Tu union for its working conditions.

E Tu said Sistema paid 400 of its factory workers the minimum wage and made them work 60-hour weeks on 12-hour shifts.

But the company said the claims were "completely false." It said 266 employees who had worked at Sistema for less than two years were on the minimum wage.