Sistema sold to Sharpie owner US Newell Brands for $660 million (Video)
Kiwi plastic kitchen container firm Sistema has been snapped up by a US Fortune 500 company for $660 million in another garage-to-global local business success story.
Founder, and 90 per cent owner, Brendan Lindsay turned down an initial offer from Newell Brands in 2014 because it would not commit to keeping the firm's manufacturing and 700 staff New Zealand based.
This year Newell tried again and after visiting Sistema's new Auckland factory, the company with a United States market capitalisation of US$22 billion (NZ$31b) agreed to all Lindsay's conditions.
"There's a 20-year lease on the building, guaranteed employment for 700 staff with all their [existing] employment conditions. It's business as usual, nothing changes," Lindsay said.
"The way I look at it, this is my baby and it's time for new parents. And it's the best deal for Sistema because why would you give your baby to parents you didn't like or trust?"
"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," Lindsay said.
He will step down as managing director of the company he started 34 years ago from a garage in Cambridge, but will spend the next 12 months helping appoint his replacement and managing the transition
Former New Zealand Air Force chef Lindsay and wife Jo Lindsay, who chose the Sistema name, plan to take some time over Christmas to enjoy the success and will then work on charitable endeavours next year.
"A lot of New Zealanders get a lot of money and then bugger off. We're staying put because we love our country. It's not all about the money, it's also about time, and we have that now to give back to our country and our community.
"I hope a lot of people in New Zealand can benefit from Sistema's success."
They have already spoken with Sir Stephen Tindall about his foundation, having called him when they signed the deal. Tindall gave Sistema its first drink bottle order back in the early days and the couple were keen for his advice.
Also spoken to is former Olympic gold medal rower and Olympic Chef de Mission Rob Waddell as the Lindsays are keen to be involved in a sports institute for young New Zealanders.
Asked how he planned to celebrate the deal, which was announced overnight to meet US market requirements, Lindsay said he just wanted to head home and sit on the couch with his wife.
"I'm looking forward to talking to her about what we've done, what we've achieved as a family. "
Son Cameron Lindsay runs Sistema's art and design department, and will stay on under the new ownership.
"He's disappointed he can't work with his father, but pleased he can work with someone who is going to take him more seriously," Lindsay joked.
Mark Tarchetti, president of Newell Brands, said Sistema has been on the company's radar for a number of years.
"We have previously made approaches to the company and are delighted that we have been able to reach an agreement to purchase the business.
"The new world class manufacturing facility is a tribute to the fantastic efforts and talents of Brendan and his team. The plant's level of sophisticated automation will ensure its products remain internationally competitive and will help to significantly scale the business".
Newell Brands owns stationery business Paper Mate, marker pen firm Sharpie and a raft of other consumer products.