Saturday 20 January 2018

Waterford Crystal owner snaps up six US factories in $500m deal with Ardagh

Paul Coulson, chairman of Ardagh PLC
Paul Coulson, chairman of Ardagh PLC
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The owner of Waterford Crystal is understood have shelled out around $500m (€362m) to buy six US glass manufacturing plants from Ardagh Group, which is controlled by Dublin financier Paul Coulson.

Ardagh is selling the plants to New York-based private equity firm KPS Capital Partners as part of a deal that helps secure approval from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for Ardagh's €1.3bn acquisition of Verallia North America, which is being sold by French industrial giant Saint-Gobain.

KPS bought Waterford-Wedgwood in 2009. The crystal and china firm owed €541m when a receiver was appointed, including €346.5m to debenture holders and €195m to unsecured creditors.

KPS paid just €6m for the Waterford Wedgwood intellectual property.

The FTC had moved to block the acquisition of Verallia by Ardagh last year, citing concerns that the price of glass containers in the United States could rise following the takeover, hurting consumers.

Since then, Ardagh and the FTC have been engaged in negotiations that would allow the Verallia deal to go ahead.

On Friday, Ardagh confirmed that it had completed the Verallia acquisition after finalising the approval of the FTC.

Ardagh agreed to sell six of its existing US plants in order to get the green light from the FTC for the Verallia buy.

Those six factories had been acquired by Ardagh in 2012 as part of its purchase of Anchor Glass for close to $900m.

KPS is effectively buying the entire Anchor Glass operation from Ardagh.

Yesterday, Ardagh confirmed the sale of the manufacturing plants to KPS Capital Partners. No purchase price was revealed, but it's thought KPS paid in the region of $500m.

Following its acquisition of Verallia North America and the sale of the six plants, Ardagh's North America operation will be generating annual revenue of around $2bn from 16 glass-making sites employing about 5,000 people. It will be the second-biggest player in the US glass container market, after Owens-Illinois.

Ardagh also looks to have set itself up for significant competition from KPS across the markets in which it operates.

"Our investment is the first step in creating a thriving enterprise in the glass packaging industry, and we intend to aggressively grow the Anchor Glass platform both organically and through acquisitions on a global scale," said Jay Bernstein, a partner at KPS.

Mr Coulson has built Ardagh into a major global operation from its company roots within Irish Glass.

A stockmarket flotation of the company is on the cards for next year or early 2016, a move that will probably confirm Mr Coulson's position as one of Ireland's few billionaires.

Ardagh Glass generates annual revenue of about €4.1bn and employs 18,000 people in 100 facilities in 25 countries. It produces containers for firms such as Carlsberg, ABInBev, Bacardi and Coca-Cola.

Irish Independent

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