Saturday 23 March 2019

Ardagh will look at structure and refinancing in 2020

Ardagh CEO and chairman Paul Coulson
Ardagh CEO and chairman Paul Coulson
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Global packaging giant Ardagh, which has its roots in Irish Glass, won't initiate plan designed to materially boost the freefloat of the group until next year at least, according to CEO and chairman Paul Coulson.

But he said the plan is an "important priority".

Ardagh, which released fourth-quarter and full-year results yesterday, unveiled a blueprint last year for the scheme, which would involve a new capital structure for its holdco. Just 8pc of Ardagh was sold to investors when it floated on the stock market in New York in 2017. Mr Coulson and his family own about 36pc of the wider group.

Ardagh previously indicated that the plans wouldn't be implemented until about 2020, but some analysts questioned Mr Coulson yesterday about the timing of the event.

"In terms of the holdco refi [refinance], I think that's something we'll look at towards the end of the year, but I think it's a 2020 event rather than a 2019 event and it's all subject to market conditions and how the business is performing," he said. "That remains an important priority for us."

Mr Coulson said that Ardagh, which expanded heavily through acquisitions over the past number of years and became heavily indebted, is unlikely to pursue any mergers and acquisitions in the near future.

Asked if there were assets possibly up for sale in Europe that Ardagh might be interested in, Mr Coulson said that there was nothing he had seen so far that would be of interest to the group.

"I don't see anything on the horizon for us," he said. "Our focus is very much on improving the operating quality of our business and our earnings."

Ardagh's reported loss for 2018 was $94m (€82m), compared to a profit of $63m (€55m) in 2017. For the fourth quarter of 2018, it made a $144m loss compared to a $33m profit in 2017's final quarter.

Revenue rose 3pc on a constant currency basis to $9.1bn.

Irish Independent

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