Saturday 24 March 2018

Ardagh float to make 10 mega millionaires

Coulson almost a billionaire with €2.2bn IPO

DEAL MAKER: Paul Coulson
DEAL MAKER: Paul Coulson
Nick Webb

Nick Webb

LOW-profile Shrewsbury Road deal maker Paul Coulson is rapidly approaching billionaire status as he announced plans to float his Ardagh glass bottle and packaging company on US stock markets in the summer, marking the first initial public offering by an Irish company on Wall Street since the dotcom boom a decade ago.

Analysts have valued Coulson's company at as much as €2.2bn, although this figure is likely to be revised after testing investor demand for the shares. Citigroup is advising Ardagh on its Wall Street flotation.

Following its €1.7bn buyout of can maker Impress last year, Ardagh is now thought to have sales of €3.2bn per year and is extremely profitable. Ardagh has been transformed in less than a decade from a mid-ranking Irish stockmarket firm to a global player in the somewhat unsexy glass and packaging business. Coulson took the company private in 2002 and broke it up in a complex deal. He would later sell its Irish Glass Bottle property assets to deal-crazy developers inclu- ding Bernard McNamara and Derek Quinlan in an infamous €420m deal at the top of the boom. At the same time the core glass and packaging business was being bulked up through a series of lightning acquisitions.

Coulson owns 21 per cent of Ardagh in his own name, according to bond issue documents obtained by the Sunday Independent. At the top end of the valuation, this could see his stake worth around €460m. However, Coulson's private investment vehicle Yeoman International owns a further €860m stake in the business through its 39 per cent shareholding.

Paris-based Coulson owns 33 per cent of Yeoman with his wife which would bring his combined stake in Ardagh up to €750m. There may be other family-related shareholders in the business as well.

While Coulson will be the big winner when Ardagh floats, company chief executive Niall Wall may also hold shares worth as much as €210m. Wall, who turned around Tipperary Crystal before moving to Ardagh, owns a 9.52 per cent stake, according to the bond documents. Former chief executive Eddie Kilty -- now a non-executive director -- holds a 3.45 per cent stake in Ardagh, which could be worth as much as €76m.

Kilty, who retired in 2007, also received a €1.6m "ex-gratia" payment when he exited the hotseat at the company.

Former Davy stockbroker Brendan Dowling, who joined Ardagh in 1998, has a 2.95 per cent stake which is valued at €64.9m. Dowling, an economist, serves as Ardagh's Corporate Development Director.

Finance director John Riordan has a 0.95 per cent stake in Ardagh, which may be worth up to €20.9m. Houghton Fry, the former chairman and senior partner of the William Fry law firm, has a 2.38 per cent stake worth as much as €52.3m. David Currie, who heads up the glass business, has a one per cent stake valued at about €22m; while company secretary Brian Butterly sits on a 0.61 per cent slice worth over €13.4m and Wolfgang Baertz owns about €15.6m worth of shares. Board member Frank Davies has a stake worth almost €1m.

It has also emerged that Ardagh shareholders may divvy up close to €170m from a bond issue and the repayment of some high interest PIK bonds. The ratings agency believes that Ardagh is planning a share buy-back or some form of capital distribution or special dividend to its shareholders after the bond issue.

Sunday Indo Business

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