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Equity firms slash Smurfit stakes

Packaging giant Smurfit Kappa has confirmed that its three biggest shareholders -- private equity groups Cinven, CVC and Madison Dearborn -- have cut their stakes in the business in a move that boosts the liquidity of the shares and marks what is certainly the beginning of the equity groups' eventual exit from the firm.

Smurfit Kappa said yesterday that Cinven and CVC, which between them own a combined stake of 24.4pc via a vehicle called Smurfit Kappa Feeder, have reduced their holding to 18.1pc. Madison Dearborn has reduced its stake from 21.5pc to 15.9pc.

The investors sold a total of 25 million shares via an institutional placing at €8.50 per share, with the transaction valued at €212m. The sale was handled by Credit Suisse and Davy. The equity groups' remaining stakes are valued at roughly €650m. Smurfit Kappa has a market capitalisation of about €1.9bn. Cinven, CVC and Madison Dearborn have consented to a 90-day lock-up in respect of their remaining stakes in the business.

Madison Dearborn acquired Jefferson Smurfit Group in 2002 and in 2005 the company merged with Kappa.

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