Johannesburg, South Africa, 29 September 2008 -- /PRNewswire/ -- Sappi Limited (NYSE:SPP) , a leading producer of coated fine paper and chemical cellulose, today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire the coated graphic paper business of M-real for EUR 750 million (USD 1.1 billion; ZAR 8.9 billion), subject to a purchase price adjustment for net debt and working capital.
The transaction includes the acquisition of M-real's coated graphic paper business (other than in respect of M-real's South African business), including brands and know-how, and four coated graphic paper mills -- at Kirkniemi and Kangas in Finland, Stockstadt in Germany, and Biberist in Switzerland. Husum PM8 mill in Sweden and Aanekoski PM2 mill in Finland will remain in M-real's ownership and continue as contract producers for Sappi under supply agreements. The transaction also includes long-term supply agreements for wood, pulp, and other services. The acquisition will be financed through a combination of equity, assumed debt, the cash proceeds from a rights offering, and a vendor note.
M-real has today announced plans for its Gohrsmuhle and Hallein mills, located in Germany and Austria respectively, to discontinue production of coated woodfree paper (approximately 0.6 million tons of capacity per annum).
The main benefits of the acquisition include:
- Enhancement of Sappi's leading position in the coated fine paper sector in Europe and globally.
- Expansion of Sappi's woodfree coated product offering and customer base, and the addition of the strong brands and significant market position of M-real's magazine paper.
- Increased graphic paper capacity in Europe, from 2.6 million tons/annum to 4.5 million tons/annum.
- Expected realization of significant synergies, estimated at approximately EUR 120 million annually, which should be realizable in full within three years and without material capital investments.
Commenting on the transaction Ralph Boettger, chief executive officer of Sappi Limited, said, "This acquisition will significantly strengthen Sappi's market position in Europe and globally by combining M-real's strong brands and assets with Sappi's already powerful product offering. This transaction is in line with Sappi's stated intention to improve profitability and returns, and to seek out opportunities that will add value to and grow Sappi's business as a market leader in coated fine paper and chemical cellulose," he said.
"We are excited about the transaction and the benefits it brings to Sappi, the industry, as well as to our existing and new customers. We anticipate that the acquisition will increase profitability, resulting in better returns and improved cash flows for the group. We expect that these benefits will in part be achieved due to expected annual synergies coming from the maximizing of capacity utilization and distribution, the integration of sales and administration, and the rationalization of manufacturing across the Sappi group," Boettger said..
"Sappi has built its global footprint through the acquisition and integration of businesses in North America and Europe. This transaction provides significant momentum to the execution of Sappi's stated strategy to become the most profitable company in the pulp, paper and chemical cellulose sectors in which it operates," he said.
Allan Gray Limited and RMB Asset Managers, who in aggregate, manage approximately 34% of Sappi's shareholding, have agreed to support the acquisition. The transaction is conditional on a number of conditions, including approval from the competition authorities in the United States and the European Union.
Full details are available at www.sappi.com .