Paul Coulson's glass bottle behemoth Ardagh has shelved its planned $500m pre-IPO fundraising round due to the uncertainty over a US probe into the $1.7bn buyout of rival group Verallia.
"In late May, we outlined that we were evaluating the possible private sale of a minority stake (for an amount exceeding $500m) in the form of an equity or equity-linked instrument. Pending the resolution of the regulatory issues associated with the acquisition of VNA, we have decided to temporarily put on hold the negotiations regarding this equity sale," the company said last week.
Ardagh had been planning to float on US stockmarkets this autumn in the biggest IPO by an Irish company since the dotcom boom.
Coulson's audacious strategy of bulking up his glass company through a blitzkreig of mega debt-funded acquisitions hit turbulence in July, when US authorities launched an anti-trust probe into the $1.7bn takeover of St Gobain's US business Verallia.
"We are disappointed in the action that the FTC has taken. We believe the transaction will benefit glass container customers and is fully consistent with the anti-trust laws. Ardagh intends to vigorously defend the transaction in litigation, whilst at the same time working with the FTC to seek to resolve its concerns," the company said.
Coulson's transformation of Ardagh from a sleepy glass bottling firm in Ringsend to one of the world's biggest industrial groups is nothing short of extraordinary. The Shrewsbury Road financier owns over 37 per cent of Ardagh, which is thought to be worth over €3bn. Ardagh has also made fortunes from Coulson's management team, with chief executive Niall Wall owning a 9.5 per cent stake, worth almost €300m.