LONGUEUIL, Quebec -- Sico Inc., Longueuil, Quebec, has acquired PARA Inc., an architectural-coatings manufacturer based in Brampton, Ontario, in a transaction that Sico said makes it Canada's largest architectural-coatings manufacturer. The purchase price is approximately $16.9 million, and includes the assumption of about $26.9 million in debt. The purchase is the fifth acquisition for Sico since late 2000, and is the largest to date.

PARA, which was founded in 1915, manufactures and markets a full line of architectural paint and related products, primarily through independent dealers. The company's sales were approximately $49 million in 2002. The company's products, mostly carrying the PARA brand name, are sold through more than 400 outlets across Canada, more than half of which are located in the Toronto area. Key customer segments include professional painters and the DIY market, although Sico said the professional segment is of particular interest in its strategic growth plans.

Pierre Brodeur, Sico's president and CEO, said the acquisition more than doubles his company's market share in Ontario, to about 20% of the total, while "significantly" expanding Sico's presence in the Maritime provinces.