Ecka Granulate, the world’s biggest producer of copper powder at around 25 000 tonnes annually, and Makin Metal Powders, a major supplier of copper and other non-ferrous metal powders, called in administrators after banks withdrew credit backing after first quarter figures revealed plunging copper powder sales, mainly associated with automotive supply.

An improvement in the second quarter was not enough to persuade creditors top allow the companies to trade their way out of trouble.

Ecka Holding Co filed for insolvency in Germany in mid August. The Ecka Group has atomised and electrolytic production plants at Velden and Trautenfurt in Germany devoted mainly to copper production. Production is expected to continue as the court appointed administrator looks for buyers.

Significantly the administration does not extend to Ecka Granulate MicroMet GmbH, or to Ecka Poudmet in France, Ecka Metal Powder in the UK or Ecka Granules of America. The Group’s interests in aluminium and magnesium powders also fall outside the remit of insolvency.

Makin Metal Powders was formed more than 50 years ago and until recently was a wholly owned subsidiary of US Metal Powders.  It called in administrators on July 31. A well-placed source inside the company said that although the first quarter figures were “well down” on the levels of the previous year, second quarter levels were improving, a pattern reflected in figures released by PM associations around the world.

Administrators at both companies stressed that they were still going concerns and expressed confidence that buyers would be sold.