Hillenbrand exploring ‘alternatives’ for its funeral, burial subsidiary

Keywords Hillenbrand Inc.
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As recently as 2019, the Batesville subsidiary was responsible for about one-quarter of Hillenbrand Inc.'s annual revenue. (Photo courtesy of Hillenbrand Inc.)

The board of directors for Batesville-based Hillenbrand Inc. has begun exploring “strategic alternatives” for its subsidiary in the funeral and burial business that goes back to the company’s roots late in the 19th century.

The subsidiary is named Batesville, after the city of its founding. It manufactures burial and cremation products and provides business and technology services for funeral professionals. Hillenbrand also makes material-handling equipment and systems, and in 2021 had global revenue of $2.9 billion.

In 2019, Hillenbrand officials told IBJ that Batesville accounted for about one-quarter of the corporation’s sales and 40% of its cash flow. However, trends toward cremation were slowly shrinking sales.

Hillenbrand did not provide specific details on what the alternatives for Batesville could entail. Similar announcements in the corporate world have preceded sales or spinoffs, to name a couple of options. In a news release, the company said, “There can be no assurance that the process will result in any transaction for Batesville or that any transaction, if pursued, will be consummated.”

Chief Executive Officer Kim Ryan says the move is a “defining moment” for the company and builds on the work that has been done to position Batesville for success.

“Batesville has been a recognized leader in the death care industry for more than 115 years because of its exceptional quality, innovation, and customer service,” said Ryan. “Through this process, we are focused on determining the best path to benefit Batesville, its stakeholders, and Hillenbrand.

The company said it does not intend to provide additional information on the plan for Batesville until the process is completed or terminated.

Batesville was founded in 1884 as the Batesville Coffin Co. It was acquired in 1906 by John Hillenbrand and renamed the Batesville Casket Co.

Hillenbrand also announced Wednesday it has signed a binding offer to acquire France-based LINXIS Group in a deal valued at $585 million.

LINXIS specializes in the design, manufacturing, and service of dosing, kneading, mixing, granulating, drying and coating automaton equipment that serves the food industry, as well as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and chemicals, according to its website.

The two companies are expected to enter a definitive purchase agreement, with the acquisition set to close before the end of the year, pending regulatory approval.

Hillenbrand says when the deal closes, LINXIS Group and its more than 1,000 employees will join its Coperion and Rotex brands, which are part of Hillenbrand’s Advanced Process Solutions segment.

Hillenbrand is the 18th largest public company in Indiana based on its 2021 revenue, according to IBJ research. It has 10,500 employees globally. In 2021, it reported that 6,500 of its employees were located in Indiana.

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