Smurfit Kappa should come out and say something

Continuing media speculation concerning rumoured interest in Smurfit Kappa from International Paper

Gary McGann, CEO of Smurfit Kappa The Irish company has so far said nothing  but the whisper in the wind whistling out of the group is that it knows nothing of any potential suitors

Gary McGann, CEO of Smurfit Kappa The Irish company has so far said nothing but the whisper in the wind whistling out of the group is that it knows nothing of any potential suitors

 

How much longer will Smurfit Kappa be able to ignore the continuing market and media speculation concerning rumoured interest in the company from International Paper, a US company?

Several outlets, mostly in Britain, have been speculating since last week that IP is interested in paying more than €8 billion for Smurfit. It is a very specific rumour. The Irish company, led by Gary McGann, has so far said nothing publicly, but the whisper in the wind whistling out of the group is that it knows nothing of any potential suitors.

So why not just come out and say so?

Smurfit Kappa’s share price has taken off like a rocket in recent months, and rose by more than 2 per cent on Monday alone. Over 6.8 million shares worth about €200 million changed hands on the Iseq alone over the course of the day.

The reports of interest from various suitors, even if they are fallacious, are clearly having a material impact on its share price. If the company knows there is nothing in the story, then at some stage, won’t it feel obliged to inform investors and the wider market to prevent such pointless share price volatility?

McGann owns about 500,000 shares in the business, excluding options yet to be exercised. It is rumoured that IP is mulling a bid of €36 per share, which would value his currently-held stake at about €18 million.

Tony Smurfit, scion of the family whose name hangs over the door, owns a stake roughly double the size of McGann’s. They have plenty of skin the in the game, as market types say.

Some have mused that IP may even contemplate a hostile bid, but the waters of friendship would surely have to be tested first. That would require contact of the sort of which there currently appears to be no knowledge within the group.

Smurfit Kappa is due to host an investor day in Amsterdam, beginning on Wednesday. McGann and his team may come under pressure at this two-day get together to reveal what, if anything, they know about outside interest.

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