Ardagh slides into €685m loss amid charge against US glass business

Cyberattack that forced temporary systems shutdown cost $5m after insurance cover

Ardagh Group, the glass and metal packaging giant led by Irish man Paul Coulson, swung into a $766 million (€685 million) loss last year as it wrote down the value of its north American glass business and absorbed large transaction costs, including from the spin-off of its drink cans unit.

The net loss, which compared with $35 million profit for 2020, included a $395 million impairment charge as it lowered the carrying value of its Ardagh Glass Packaging north America unit, partly down to tweaking earnings forecasts for the business as it weighed its ability to pass on rising input costs to customers.

The company also booked $415 million of transaction-related and other costs last year, including an accounting charge relating to the reversal last August of its beverage cans division into a New York-listed cash shell. Ardagh retains a 75 per cent in the US-listed company, which has been renamed as Ardagh Metal Packaging (AMP).

While Ardagh incurred $34 million in professional support fees and other costs as a result of it being hit by a cyberattack last May, forcing it to shut down some of its systems as a precautionary measure, the final financial impact was $5 million, net of insurance coverage, it said on Thursday.

Group revenue rose to $7.58 billion last year from $6.73 billion in 2020, amid rising demand for sustainable packaging and as the company passed on rising input costs, including energy, where possible to customers.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) rose to $1.25 billion from $1.16 billion.

Flotation

Ardagh itself floated in New York in 2017 after an initial public offering (IPO) in which stock market investors took an 8 per cent stake in the business. Most of these opted late last year to exchange their Ardagh shares for units in AMP, resulting in the parent group being delisted.

It was reported in December that Ardagh and a Canadian teachers’ fund plan to put their food and speciality metal cans joint venture on the market this year, in a transaction that could put an enterprise value of more than $4 billion on the business, including debt.

Trivium, in which Ardagh has a 42 per cent stake, had $2.7 billion of borrowings at the end of December.

Broken down by division, Ardagh’s European metal packaging unit’s ebitda rose 13 per cent to $281 million last year, while earnings in the same line of business in the Americas jumped 29 per cent.

While ebitda in Ardagh's glass operation in Europe edged 7 per cent higher to $393 million, its Americas glass business saw earnings drop 21 per cent to $190 million.

In response to the positive forecast demand outlook for its metal and glass packaging, Ardagh embarked in 2021 on a four-year investment programme involving a spend of more than $2 billion, with 90 per cent of it aimed at expanding its metal packaging business.

As part of this, the group announced last November that it is planning to build a beverage cans plant near Belfast at a cost of $200 million, bringing manufacturing back to Ireland for the first time since its controversial closure of the Irish Glass Bottle facility in Ringsend in Dublin almost two decades ago.