Smurfit brothers to acquire Whakatane mill

It has been reported in the Irish Times that Dermot and Michael Smurfit have led a takeover of the Whakatane mill in New Zealand for an undisclosed price, saving the mill from closure and preserving 170 jobs. The mill makes liquid packaging board grades.

The mill had been set for closure at the end of June after its owner, Swiss packaging company SIG Combibloc, decided earlier this year that the mill was no longer competitive.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Dermot Smurfit, the main investor in a consortium, said the plan was to ramp up production in the mill’s two other lines of business: folding boxboard and carrier board.

“The current output of the mill is 150,000 tonnes. We’ll be looking to increase that by 50,000 to 60,000 in due course,” said Smurfit, adding that the consortium could seek to float the business in New Zealand or London in three to four years.

Smurfit said that the hope was that the investment would emulate the Smurfit brothers’ successful involvement in Powerflute, where they led a takeover in 2005. That business ended up being acquired by US private equity group Madison Dearborn Partners for £268m.

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