Sunday 25 August 2019

Kingspan has 'moved on' from rebuffed effort to buy Belgian rival

Kingspan chairman Eugene Murtagh
Kingspan chairman Eugene Murtagh
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

KINGSPAN has "moved on" from its failed attempts to buy some or all of Belgian rival Recticel.

Last week Recticel formally rejected Kingspan's €700m offer - made on April 16 for two of its units - and said the Irish company had also made an approach for the entire business.

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A new approach is now unlikely, Kingspan CEO Gene Murtagh told shareholders at the group's annual general meeting in Dublin yesterday.

"I wouldn't hold out much hope on [the offers] being revived, it would have been a nice bolt-on, but that's it," he said.

The cost to Kingspan of its acquisition attempts was "not significant", he said.

"At the end of the day [Recticel's] insulation business has about €270m revenue, so ultimately we were going to end up there."

Kingspan has around €500m a year to spend on acquisitions, and has a "very healthy project pipeline when it comes to acquisitions, more than we are capable of executing", Mr Murtagh said.

At the AGM 16pc of Kingspan shareholders voted against the re-appointment of founder Eugene Murtagh as chairman - up from 9.9pc opposition last year.

Eugene Murtagh (76) founded Kingspan in 1965 and was chief executive of the group until 2005, when his son Gene took up that role.

Shareholder advisors ISS and Glass Lewis had recommended shareholders back the re-election of Eugene Murtagh.

Just over 23pc of shareholders voted against the company's remuneration policy.

CEO Gene Murtagh said the board would "absolutely" take shareholder concerns into consideration.

"That's not to say that we'll particularly change," he added.

The group reported a "positive" start to 2019, with sales up 18pc to €1.06bn in the three months to March 31. Sales increased 6pc on an organic basis.

In Ireland Kingspan reported a "strong" start to the year.

UK sales activity was positive, but order intake in insulated panels was relatively subdued, with people "obviously a bit nervous" about Brexit, Mr Murtagh said.

"We don't get absorbed by this [Brexit], it's so unknown, so unquantifiable, it's business as usual until it isn't."

Shares in Recticel fell and were down around 3pc in afternoon trading yesterday.

Irish Independent

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