Saturday 24 February 2018

Ardagh presses on with plans to float in New York after filing

Paul Coulson, executive chairman of Ardagh Group
Paul Coulson, executive chairman of Ardagh Group
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Glass and metal firm Ardagh has pressed ahead with plans to float on the New York Stock Exchange next year after filing a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Financier and chairperson Paul Coulson revealed last month that he intended to push on with the company's long-awaited initial public offering (IPO) as early as March.

On Thursday night the company filed a Form F-1 with US authorities relating to the share sale.

Ardagh said the number of shares to be offered and the price range had yet to be decided. When listed, the Class A shares will appear on the exchange under the symbol "ARD".

However, it is understood the total value of the IPO will be around 5pc of Ardagh's market capitalisation.

The shares will be issued by Ardagh's operating company, which is its glass and metals business. The operating company is free from the holding company's debt, which is above €1bn.

It is understood the share sale is expected to raise around $250m with the company more focused on getting a listing as opposed to raising funds. The equity of the company being issued is likely to fluctuate depending on market conditions.

As previously touted by Mr Coulson the IPO is expected to take place within the first half of 2017.

Speaking on a call to bond holders in October Mr Coulson outlined the reasoning behind the share sale. "It will give us access to public equity markets for further acquisitions and provide us with one way of repaying our HoldCo debt.

"The listing will ultimately provide public market liquidity for our current shareholders and the structure we are putting in place will enable them to retain most of the benefit from the strong de-leveraging we expect in our business over the next few years," he said.

After the IPO the company will also have Class B shares, which will differ from Class A on par value, voting, and conversion rights. The remaining shares after the offering will be left in control of the holding company. Each Class A common share will be entitled to one vote per share while each Class B common share will get ten votes per share.

Shares will be issued through Ardagh Finance Holdings, a subsidiary of Ardagh Group.

Ardagh will still be able to control the outcome of most resolutions put to shareholders even if its stake in the operating company is less than 50pc due to the voting rights associated with the shares.

"Because of the 10-to-1 voting ratio between our Class B and Class A common shares, our parent company will continue to control a majority of the combined voting power of our issued and outstanding share capital even when Class B common shares represent substantially less than 50pc of all issued and outstanding common shares," the company said in its SEC filing.

The firm produces packaging for leading food and drink consumer brands. Operating in 22 countries and employing 23,500 people, it generates sales in excess of €7.8bn.

Citigroup is acting as the lead book-running manager for the IPO.

Irish Independent

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