DS Smith to buy Europac for $2.2 billion as paper deals accelerate


UK-based packaging group DS Smith Plc has offered to buy Spanish rival Europac for 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion) including debt to bolster its position in western Europe’s fast-growing packaging market.

A deal would be DS Smith’s biggest acquisition to date and the latest in an industry benefiting from growing demand from online retailers.

“Europac’s board of directors has confirmed that the acquisition is friendly and attractive,” DS Smith said on Monday, adding it had received undertakings to accept the offer from shareholders owning 58.97 percent of the Spanish company.

Chief Executive Miles Roberts said the deal would cement DS Smith as the market leader in France and make it number two in Spain, serving customers in fast-moving consumer goods, food products and e-commerce, where it is already a leading supplier to customers including Amazon.

“It’s an exceptional opportunity to enhance our customer offer in a key packaging growth region,” he told reporters.

The proposed deal is the latest in a consolidating sector. Ireland’s Smurfit Kappa agreed to buy Dutch paper and recycling firm Reparenco last month in an attempt to see off a takeover bid from U.S. rival International Paper.

Europac shares rose 8 percent to 16.8 euros on Monday, matching DS Smith’s offer price, while DS Smith’s climbed 3.7 percent to a record 583 pence.

Trevor Green, head of UK equities at Aviva, the biggest shareholder in DS Smith with a 7.15 percent stake, said it was an “exciting deal” at an opportune time.

“This management team has an excellent track record of integrating and turning around acquisitions,” he said.

Roberts said the additional paper production from Europac would be absorbed in the coming years as the group’s package requirements were growing at over 200,000 tonnes a year, so there would be no need for major capacity reductions in Spain.

Europac made about 940,000 tonnes of the “kraftliner” used in corrugated paper boxes last year.

DS Smith also said it had started a strategic review of its plastics business, which accounts for 6-7 percent of turnover, as it increases its focus on production of fiber products. Roberts said it was too early to indicate any conclusions.

The British company will finance the acquisition by raising 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) from issuing new shares, plus a new debt facility of 740 million euros, it said.

The offer price values Europac’s equity at 1.67 billion euros. Including debt, the deal is worth 1.9 billion euros.

The deal is conditional on acceptances from Europac shareholders representing at least 50 percent plus one share, regulatory approvals and the approval of DS Smith’s shareholders, DS Smith said.

Source: Reuters


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