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Hillenbrand to buy German firm for $300 million

BATESVILLE, Ind. -- Hillenbrand Inc. on Tuesday said it will acquire Germany's Coperion Capital GmbH for 232 million euros, or about $300 million, expanding Hillenbrand's industrial products operations as the company diversifies beyond its traditional business making burial caskets.

Hillenbrand is also assuming about $98 million in debt and about $129 million in pension liabilities.

Coperion, which is owned by German private equity firm Deutsche Beteiligungs AG, makes equipment used in the plastics, chemicals, food processing, pharmaceuticals and aluminum industries.

Hillenbrand plans to add Coperion to the group of businesses that make up its Process Equipment Group. After the deal closes, that group is expected to generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue, representing about two-thirds of Hillenbrand's overall revenue, said Kenneth Camp, the Batesville, Ind., company's CEO. The division includes K-Tron, a manufacturer of industrial feeders and pneumatic conveyers that Hillenbrand acquired in 2010, and Rotex, which makes separation machines and was acquired in 2011.

Hillenbrand also owns the Batesville Casket Co., which has made products for the funeral industry for more than 100 years.

The Coperion deal is expected to close in December or January. Hillenbrand predicts it will add to earnings starting next year.

Standard and Poor's Ratings Services cut Hillenbrand's corporate credit rating on Tuesday, saying the transaction added to the company's business and financial risks. Hillenbrand's rating was cut to "BBB-" from "BBB," with a "Stable" outlook. The new rating is S&P's lowest investment-grade rating, one notch above junk status. A lower rating can mean higher borrowing costs

Shares of Hillenbrand rose 69 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $19.33 in afternoon trading.