Packaging company Maillis said yesterday it has taken a 30-percent stake in Italian electronics and software design firm 3L, giving a significant boost to its research and development capabilities. Maillis acquired the stake via a share capital increase launched by 3L. It has an option to expand the holding into a majority stake in the future. In addition to augmenting its R&D capability, the strategic stake «promises to create considerable economies of scale in the packaging machines and systems production, not only in Italy, but also in the other machine manufacturing subsidiaries of the group,» said Michalis Maillis, chief executive officer. Based in Formigine, Modena, 3L designs and manufactures electrical panels and switches and software for industrial applications. Maillis is one of the fastest-growing and acquisitive companies in Greece. A buying spree of close to 10 companies in 2000 gave it a foothold in Spain, the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Austria and most of the Eastern European countries. It is the global leader in the carton-sealing machine market. It also dominates in the wrapping machines and strapping equipment sector. Maillis this year took out a 130-million-euro syndicated loan to finance acquisitions. Takeovers have been selective due to the uncertain economic environment. Some 97 percent of sales are derived from operations abroad. Maillis earlier this year said annual growth of up to 30 percent is expected in the next two years once global markets regain their equilibrium.