Local industrialists can be proud of the fact that as of last week, the Greek packaging company Maillis leads in the production and distribution of packaging materials in the UK, following the company’s acquisition of the UK operations of the Canadian venture Samuel Manu-Tech. Right now, just 3 percent of our production is marketed in Greece and the remaining 97 percent is exported overseas, Maillis president, Michalis Maillis, told Kathimerini in an interview. We plan to finish off this year with yet another acquisition. The main thing is that we are proceeding with our international expansion at a regular pace. Presently we have some 30 operations abroad. Maillis, who spends half the week traveling the length and breadth of Europe to check on subsidiaries, also unveiled his plans for 2002. Next year we plan to expand the company’s growth and to continue buying other ventures in line with our two-year program, he noted. Last Wednesday, Maillis took over the European unit of Canada’s Samuel Manu-Tech Inc. for 5.5 billion drachmas. The venture, Samuel Strapping Systems, competes with Maillis in the packaging business. It leads in the production and distribution of heavy-use packaging materials. Annual revenues exceed 13 billion drachmas. In addition to a significant share of the UK market, Samuel Strapping Systems also export to other parts of Europe. It also owns a subsidiary in France, Cerclage Sarl. The acquisition of Samuel Strapping Systems is set to reinforce Maillis’s position in Europe. It will also benefit from economies of scale and synergies. The addition of Samuel Strapping Systems to our UK operations, Payne Strapping Systems and United Packaging, will increase our market share in the UK and also makes us the lead player in one of the biggest European markets, Maillis pointed out. He said the company will enjoy substantial cost savings and increased sales via the complementary distribution networks. Furthermore it will benefit from Samuel Strapping Systems’s experience and expertise. Maillis was advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers during the acquisition. Even as the global situation is gripped by a recession and corporate contraction, Maillis has embarked on a wave of acquisitions, integrating and streamlining the takeovers, the company head said. He also denied press reports that the company has been downgraded by international credit rating agencies. The recent financial events have not affected Maillis at all. We still have high liquidity and will continue our program of acquisitions even as US companies consolidate.