Tuesday 12 December 2017

Norway buys up 4 per cent holding at Smurfit Kappa

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

OIL-rich Norway has built up a 4 per cent stake in Gary McGann's €1.6bn-valued Smurfit Kappa Group in recent weeks.

The stakebuilding, by the vast €230bn Norwegian state sovereign wealth fund, fronted by Norges Bank Investment Managers, is thought to have started at the end of last year but big blocks of shares were bought in March and again in the last fortnight.

The Norwegian state fund is now Smurfit's fifth largest shareholder with a near €70m stake in the paper and packaging group.

The Norwegians have done extraordinarily well on their punt in Smurfit, with shares rising close to 20 per cent in the last couple of months.

Last week Smurfit announced a major asset swap with rival packing firm Mondi, which involved the switching of UK and Irish businesses.

Last year, the Sunday Independent revealed that the huge state fund had amassed a 3 per cent stake in Kelly Martin's drug company Elan, buying shares in the US and UK.

Last week Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan appointed Knut Kjaer to the board of the National Pensions Reserve Fund. Kjaer was the driving force behind the establishment of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund and served as its CEO.

Lenihan also reappointed John Canning to the pensions board.

Canning is chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners -- which owns a 21 per cent stake in Smurfit Kappa.

Sunday Independent

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