Business World

Saturday 17 March 2018

Smurfit's Powerflute posts flat profits but remains upbeat

US private equity group Madison Dearborn. Photo: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News
US private equity group Madison Dearborn. Photo: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Pre-tax profits at Finnish paper manufacturer Powerflute, which is controlled by Dermot Smurfit and his family, remained flat at €18.5m in the first half of the year, as revenue declined to €176.1m from €179.7m.

In December, Powerflute terminated takeover talks with private equity giant Madison Dearborn, which saw Mr Smurfit and his brother Michael lose out on a more than €100m pay day.

Releasing first-half results yesterday, Powerflute said that its earnings per share edged slightly higher, from 4.3 cent to 4.5 cent, while net debt rose to €42.9m from €37.1m at the end of December.

The company refinanced €120m of borrowing facilities last month, which will result in its interest bill being cut.

Dermot Smurfit, who is executive chairman at the group, said the first-half performance had been good.

"Markets are expected to remain competitive throughout the second half of the year," he said.

"Despite this, we expect to make further progress with operational improvement initiatives."

Chief executive Marco Casiraghi said that there was pressure on volumes in the first half and pricing intensified due to weaker than expected fruit harvests in a number of markets.

Shares in the company, which are listed in London, were trading over 6.5pc higher near the yesterday's close, putting a £212m (€244m) market capitalisation on the business. Mr Smurfit owns close to 16pc of the company, while an investment vehicle controlled by Michael Smurfit owns 21.5pc.

The approach from Madison Dearborn last year valued Powerflute at around €353m, based on exchange rates at the time.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business