By Stephen McKinley
Dublin-based cardboard box makers Jefferson Smurfit is up for sale, and a bid may come from Chicago-based Madison Dearborn Partners.
With the company lagging behind competitors in performance for some years, CEO Michael Smurfit confirmed that a bid was in the air but declined to say from whom. Smurfit also said that he would step down as chief executive in October.
Smurfit’s underperformance over the years had gotten worse. As the Sunday Business Post noted, euro 100 invested in Smurfit in 1992, would now be worth euro 180, whereas euro 100 invested in the Irish Stock Exchange would be worth euro 380.
The news of a possible Madison Dearborn takeover sent Smurfit’s shares soaring.
In recent years, Michael Smurfit has been criticized for his high-living and excessive salary. In 2000, he received euro 6.6 million. He lives outside Ireland in the tax haven of Monaco.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
As yet, any takeover bid is at a preliminary “discussion stage,” according to the company’s own press release.
Smurfit has campaigned for years for discipline in the world packaging industry. With too many corrugated cardboard and packaging plants across Europe and the U.S., the industry has slumped in the last two years despite the world’s buoyant economy.
Analysts say that an offer for Jefferson Smurfit could be worth as much as $2.5 billion.