March 26, 2018 / 8:00 AM / 2 years ago

Smurfit Kappa rejects improved bid from International Paper

March 26 (Reuters) - Ireland’s Smurfit Kappa on Monday said it had rejected an increased takeover offer from U.S. rival International Paper, saying the offer undervalued Europe’s largest paper packaging producer and made no strategic sense.

Under International Paper’s revised proposal, made on March 22, Smurfit’s shareholders were offered 25.25 euros in cash, up from a previous offer of 22 euros and 0.3 new shares of International Paper for each share Smurfit share they hold.

The offer valued the company at 9.5 billion euros.

The “revised proposal fundamentally undervalues the group and remains significantly below the valuations set by recent industry transactions,” Smurfit said.

“The Revised Proposal does not make strategic sense for Smurfit Kappa and its stakeholders,” said Smurfit, which operates in 35 countries in Europe and the Americas.

Smurfit shares were 1.9 percent lower at 0825 GMT.

The company said a deal with U.S. listed International Paper would expose Smurfit shareholders to the risk of greater leverage and challenges of integrating two businesses with different cultures.

The bid comes as growing consumer spending and the popularity of online shopping have boosted demand for packaging.

The company reiterated that it sees its future as an independent company, headquartered in Ireland.

An acquisition would allow International Paper to significantly diversify its business beyond North America.

Smurfit, which operates in 35 countries in Europe and the Americas, recorded a slight rise in annual earnings to 1.24 billion euros ($1.5 billion) last year after a strong fourth quarter.

$1 = 0.8088 euros Reporting by Clara Denina in London and Graham Fahy in Dublin; editing by Jason Neely

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