Ardagh prices $307.8m IPO at upper end of range

Group prices the sale of 16.2m shares at $19 each for New York Stock Exchange debut

Paul Coulson, chairman of the Ardagh Group, has been plotting a flotation of Ardagh since at least 2011, having taken the company private in 2003. Photograph: Alan Betson

Shares in Ardagh Group are set to debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday after the glass and metal container maker priced its $307.8 million (€290 million) initial public offering at the upper end of a previously-indicated range.

The group, where Dublin financier Paul Coulson is executive chairman, and banks managing the deal, fronted by Citigroup, priced the sale of 16.2 million shares, equating to a 6.9 per cent stake, on Tuesday evening at $19 each. Ardagh said last week that it had expected the shares to achieve between $17 and $20.

The firms underwriting the deal, which also include Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Davy and Wells Fargo, have the option to purchase a further 2.43 million shares from Ardagh and place them in the market. The deal values the company at $4.45 billion.

Mr Coulson, whose own 33.5 per cent stake following the share sale is valued at $1.52 billion, has been plotting a flotation of Ardagh since at least 2011, having taken the company private in 2003, a year after closing its original Ringsend bottle plant in Dublin. Ardagh subsequently spent €7.5 billion acquisitions on both sides of the Atlantic, turning itself into one of the world's largest glass bottle and metal container makers, with customers ranging from Heineken to John West and L'Oreal.


"Pricing the IPO at the top end of the range indicates investor demand for what is a high quality business with a proven management team," said David Holohan, chief investment officer at Merrion Capital in Dublin.

The company has said that it will use the proceeds from the share sale to accelerate its plan to lower its debt burden. The company’s net borrowings, mainly in the form of high-yielding bonds, stood at €7.2 billion at the end of December.

Acquisitions trail

Mr Coulson (64) has also previously indicated that having a stock market quotation would give the group another currency as it continues down the acquisitions trail.

Executives at Ardagh, also including chief financial officer David Matthews and CEO of the group's metals business David Wall, received €23 million in remuneration last year, including bonuses paid to certain senior managers in relation to their involvement in the group's largest ever deal .

Ardagh spent $3.4 billion in 2016 acquiring a beverage cans business from US rival Ball Corp and the UK’s Rexam, who were in the process of merging at the time.

Ardagh hired paper packaging group Smurfit Kappa's former chief financial officer, Ian Curley, as its CEO last September.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times