Smurfit pays €81m to lift Columbian unit stake to 98%

Packaging giant mops up most of remaining shares in in Carton de Colombia

Smurfit Kappa Group chief executive Tony Smurfit (left) and Liam O’Mahony chairman pictured at the company AGM in Dublin last year. Photgraph: Aidan Crawley

Smurfit Kappa Group chief executive Tony Smurfit (left) and Liam O’Mahony chairman pictured at the company AGM in Dublin last year. Photgraph: Aidan Crawley

 

Smurfit Kappa, the cardboard box-making giant, said on Tuesday it has spent €81 million buying up most of the shares in its Colombian unit that it did not already own.

The Dublin-based company said its stake in Carton de Colombia has increased from 69.9 per cent to 97.7 per cent as a result of the tender offer, which closed on June 6th. Smurfit Kappa launched the offer in March.

Smurfit Kappa bought a controlling stake in the Colombian business three decades ago. The development comes as the FTSE 100-listed group is considering whether to develop a large paper facility in Colombia, which may cost between €200 million and €400 million. If it goes ahead, it would be the group’s largest ever investment outside of an acquisition.

Chief executive Tony Smurfit said early last month, as the group reported quarterly earnings, that a decision on the matter had not been made.

“We try to be sensible in our investments and [have] proven that over many years,” Mr Smurfit said on a call with analysts at the time. “Engineering for that project is still ongoing. When the time is right, we’ll make a decision about whether or not that’s the right thing to do at a particular moment in time.”

Smurfit Kappa said early last year months ago it plans to spend €1.6 billion expanding its operations and buying rivals over the space of four years. Its largest deal of 2018 was its purchase of Dutch company Reparenco for €466 million. It has also sealed smaller deals in France, Bulgaria and Serbia since the investment plan was unveiled.

Smurfit Kappa was forced to write down its remaining €60 million of net assets in Venezuela last year after the Caracas government seized its local business.