By Liz White, UT staffShawbury, UK-US-based indpendent consultancy Smithers Group is buying Rapra Technology, the UK polymer research and information group, which went into administration 8 March, following difficulties with its pension fund. Rapra will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Smithers. The privately owned US group, set up in 1925, specialises in technology and research-based services worldwide. It consists of Smithers Scientific Services, Smithers Quality Assessments, Springborn Smithers Laboratories and Synomics Pharma Services. Rapra's 118 staff, employed at Shawbury, Shropshire and Billingham, transfer to Smithers, which already employs 500 people in the US and Europe.Expressing delight that Rapra has joined Smithers, Michael Hochschwender, Smithers ceo and president, said, in a statement from Rapra, "We were particularly attracted to Rapra because of the synergy between its activities and our own. Like Rapra, we are also long established and independent. Its diverse range of analytical, testing, research and information services to the rubber and plastics industry complements our activities in the US." Hochswender sees Rapra as providing "a critical link to the UK and European markets, particularly in the automotive and pharmaceutical sectors." Saying he was pleased that the uncertainty is over for customers and staff, Rapra chief executive Andrew Ward added that following an extremely challenging period, the group can "look to the future with renewed certainty." Ward also indicated that Rapra's strategic growth plan will be continued under Smithers Group."