Saint-Gobain favouring IPO approach for packaging business, source

By Helen Glaberson

- Last updated on GMT

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Saint-Gobain has rejected approaches from buyout firms for its food and drink packaging business in favour of an initial public offering (IPO) option, according to sources familiar with the situation.

A spokesperson for company told FoodProductionDaily it could not give any information on the status of the sale before the release of its financial results tomorrow.

Private equity firms, including a group formed by TPG Capital, Blackstone Group LP and Axa Private Equity, have renewed interest in making an offer for the packaging unit, according to four people familiar with the situation, reported Bloomberg.

The company, which is based in Courbevoie near Paris, is considering the IPO option only, said the sources, who declined to be identified.

A share sale may value Verallia at more than €4bn euros ($5.4 bn) two of the people were reported as saying.

Estimated €4bn value

In October, Saint-Gobain announced it may sell a minority stake in its Verallia packaging business, which produces beverage bottles and food jars, in an IPO sale.

CEO Pierre-Andre de Chalendar had previously postponed an attempt to sell the unit because of the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

The listing of the business could go ahead from the second quarter, “market conditions permitting,”​ company spokeswoman Sophie Chevallon said at the time but gave no information on prospective buyers.

“As early as 2007, I clearly stated that the packaging sector was out of step with the group’s strategic focus on the habitat and construction markets,”​ said de Chalendar last October.

“After three difficult years, the general business environment in 2011 is more likely to ensure that the packaging sector – which demonstrated its fundamental robustness during the crisis – will be valued at a price that reflects its true worth.”

It was for this reason that the company was launching the procedure for a possible stock market listing and IPO. This would allow investors to participate in the development of the business, said the CEO.

Saint-Gobain's Verallia packaging arm is the world’s second largest producer of glass bottles and jars after Ohio-based Owens Illinois (OI.N).

With operations in 12 countries, the packaging sector reported sales of €3.445m in 2009.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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