Monday 11 December 2017

Smurfit boxes clever with shareholders set to benefit

The Punt toddled along to a Dublin hotel yesterday as Smurfit Kappa boss Gary McGann, the company's chief financial officer Ian Curley and chief operations officer Tony Smurfit gave the low-down on the company's medium-term strategy.

Keen to stress that the company is now very different to the debt-laden vehicle it was some years ago, the executives said their focus now is on generating positives for shareholders.

The group reinstated its dividend last year after reducing its debt pile to a more manageable level, while it now has the wherewithal to spend up to €300m a year on acquisitions without denting its debt metrics.

Probed about whether investors have pressed for the group to intensify its exposure to the US market, for instance, McGann (inset) said that every institutional investor has their own thoughts – often conflicting with each other – about the direction the group should be taking. "We have to ignore it and do what you think is right," he said. The company – Europe's biggest box maker – slashed net debt by €600m to €2.8bn at the end of 2012 compared to 2007.

But unlike some other Irish firms that earn most of their revenue outside the country, McGann said the management team hasn't given any thought to shifting its primary listing from Dublin.

A bit of good news then for the Irish Stock Exchange – Grafton Group is likely to announce its departure in a few weeks.

Irish Independent

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