Ardagh group investors choose to trade shares in newly listed beverage cans unit
Ardagh Group, the glass and metal packaging group led by Dubliner Paul Coulson, said Wednesday that 85% of holders of an 8% stake in the group which was tradable on the New York Stock Exchange have chose to enter an offer to exchange their shares for direct shares in the group’s newly listed beverage can unit.
The company said the results of the exchange offer are preliminary and subject to change, but that it is poised to see Ardagh Group’s stake in Ardagh Metal Packaging, which was introduced in early August, drop to about 75%. It currently stands at 82 percent.
Ardagh Group launched 8% of its shares in New York in March 2017, but this year committed to securing a separate listing for its Ardagh Metal Packaging to take advantage of the high valuations of assets in this area of the industry. The listing was secured by a reverse merger early last month into a listed cash shell or special purpose acquisition company called Gores Holding V.
Ardagh Group offered 2.5 shares of Ardagh Metal Packaging for each unit held in the parent group. Ardagh Group withdrew from the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
Ardagh Group employs more than 16,000 people and has annual sales of approximately $ 7 billion (€ 6.1 billion). Its fast-growing Ardagh Metal Packaging unit is responsible for the group’s 5,000 employees and $ 3.5 billion in sales.
Ardagh, which has its roots in the long-shuttered Irish glass bottle factory at Ringsend in Dublin, entered the beverage can business in 2016 through the purchase of assets for $ 3.4 billion from the American packing group Ball and its British rival Rexam as they unloaded factories to appease competition authorities in carrying out their own merger.
Ardagh Group announced last month that it plans to pay a special dividend of $ 1.25 per share, for a total of $ 295 million. Some $ 23 million will go to all registered stock investors in the 8% tradable shares as of Monday, with the remaining $ 272 million to be funneled to a holding company at the top of the corporate tree called ARD Holdings.
ARD Holdings is expected to pay up to half of the $ 272 million to its own historic shareholders, industry sources say. These include small shareholders who remained on board a precursor of the packaging giant, Ardagh Glass, during its privatization in 2003 and chose to reinvest part of the money received two years later, the management having used a special purpose vehicle to buy all the shares in the company.
The remainder should be used to pay off the debt of the holding company, industry sources say. ARD Holdings has the equivalent of $ 2.3 billion in loans.