Business Irish

Monday 19 February 2018

Packaging giant Smurfit Kappa confirms share move to London

Chief executive Tony Smurfit
Chief executive Tony Smurfit
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Irish international packaging giant Smurfit Kappa has confirmed its plan to move its primary stock market listing to London.

The €5.3bn company said it would increase its profile and attractiveness to a wider potential investor base.

It will maintain a secondary listing in Dublin, however.

It's one of a number of large Irish multinationals that in the past few years have ditched their Dublin listings either entirely in favour of London, or made London their primary listing and relegated Dublin to second-favourite.

Building materials giant CRH made London its primary market in 2011, but maintains a secondary listing on the Irish Stock Exchange.

CRH is now a constituent member of the prestigious FTSE-100 index of the UK's largest companies.

Grafton Group, which generates about 75pc of its revenue in the UK, moved its sole listing to London in 2013 and changed its reporting currency to sterling.

In 2013, distribution giant DCC moved its listing to London, while in 2012, food group Greencore made a similar move.

UDG Healthcare also moved to London in 2012, cancelling its Dublin listing.

All the companies generate the bulk of the revenue and profits outside Ireland.

Moving to London allows them to be considered for inclusion various FTSE indices, including the benchmark FTSE-100 and FTSE-250, and exposes them to a much wider potential investor base.

For Smurfit Kappa, inclusion in the FTSE indices could happen as early as May, but more likely to happen in June.

Smurfit Kappa chief executive Tony Smurfit told the Irish Independent last month that the company would not disenfranchise its Irish investors in moving the primary listing.

"There's absolutely no way we're going to disenfranchise our existing euro shareholders for the benefit of a bunch of new shareholders, who we do think are going to be very important," he said.

"We're really trying to broaden the investor appeal.

"I've spoken to investors before who had told me they'd like to invest in the company, but that it's not UK-listed and so they can't," he said. The move of the company's primary listing will happen on April 25.

It has had a secondary listing in London since its stock market flotation in 2007. It will remain headquartered, incorporated and tax resident in Ireland.

Smurfit Kappa operates in 34 countries in Europe and the Americas and employs 45,000.

It's one of the world's largest integrated manufacturers of paper-based packaging products.

Europe accounted for about 77.1pc of its €8.1bn revenue last year, while the Americas accounted for the remainder.

It generated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of €1.18bn in 2015.

Credit Suisse said in a note yesterday that it has "long argued" that a transfer of Smurfit Kappa's primary listing to London would benefit the group's shares.

"Outside widening the potential investor base (to UK domestic investors), we believe the London Stock Exchange transfer would aid the Smurfit Kappa share to narrow the significant discount valuation discount to its UK listed peers, DS Smith and Mondi," said Credit Suisse analysts.

In Dublin, Smurfit Kappa's shares rose about 1.3pc yesterday as it confirmed its listing plans. The company has been headed by Tony Smurfit since last September, when he succeeded Gary McGann.

Mr Smurfit had previously been chief operating officer, a role that is not being filled again.

Irish Independent

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