Graphic Packaging Corp. and the owners of Altivity Packaging, LLC today said that they have signed a definitive agreement to combine the two companies.
The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2007, subject to customary shareholder and regulatory approvals. The transaction has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. Affiliates of TPG Capital, who control and own the majority of Altivity Packaging, have agreed to the transaction, and Graphic Packaging's three largest shareholders, who on a combined basis control more than 60% of Graphic Packaging's outstanding common stock, have agreed to vote in favor of the merger.
The merger is expected to create significant stockholder value by expediting growth opportunities, achieving significant cost savings and enhancing the credit profile of the newly-formed company through accelerated debt reduction.
Under the terms of the transaction, Graphic Packaging will merge into a newly-formed company, with each existing share of Graphic Packaging common stock being converted into a share of common stock in the new company. Affiliates of TPG Capital and the management owners of Altivity Packaging will contribute all of their equity interests in Altivity Packaging's holding company to the new company in exchange for shares of the new company's common stock. Upon closing of the transaction, Graphic Packaging's current shareholders will initially own approximately 60% of the new company's common stock, while the shareholders of Altivity Packaging will initially own approximately 40%. Shares of the new company, to be named Graphic Packaging Holding Company, are expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the trading symbol "GPK". The transaction values Altivity Packaging at approximately $1.75 billion, based on Altivity Packaging's current net debt of $1.1 billion (as of March 31, 2007) and Graphic Packaging's 30-trading day average stock price of $4.92 per share (as of July 5, 2007).
In connection with the transaction, Graphic Packaging has obtained committed financing to refinance Altivity Packaging's existing indebtedness.
Graphic Packaging's President and Chief Executive Officer, David W. Scheible, will serve as the President, Chief Executive Officer, and member of the Board of Directors of the new company, while George Bayly, Altivity Packaging's Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer, will also join the new company's Board of Directors. The new company's Board will be comprised of a majority of independent directors, and will be chaired by Graphic Packaging's current non-executive Chairman, John R. Miller. The new company will be based in Marietta, GA, and will retain a significant presence in Chicago, IL, where Altivity Packaging is currently headquartered.
"Our two companies share similar operating philosophies, including an unwavering commitment to serving our customers with innovative products and solutions," said David W. Scheible, Graphic Packaging's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our focus on continuous improvement will greatly enhance our integration activities, help us achieve our cost savings and merger synergy targets and drive superior results. The new company will benefit from strong positions in multiple packaging sectors including paperboard, folding carton, multi-wall & specialty bags, flexible packaging and labels, positioning us to provide our customers greater choice, better service, higher quality and more innovative solutions for all of their packaging needs. Furthermore, this merger will expand the breadth and diversity of our combined customer bases, improve our service to key national accounts, and improve access to the regional and specialty customer segments."
"This merger brings together two companies that are highly respected leaders in the packaging industry," said George Bayly, Altivity Packaging's Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer. "Together, the new company will serve a more diversified customer base and achieve economies of scale and operating efficiencies that would be more difficult to achieve on a stand- alone basis. Under David's leadership, I am confident in our collective ability to achieve our original cost savings and growth objectives, to realize substantial merger synergies, and to better serve our customers and employees who represent the future of our new company."
High Quality of Assets
The merger of Graphic Packaging and Altivity Packaging brings together 86 high quality manufacturing and converting facilities and approximately 15,600 people on five continents, enabling the combined company to better serve customers and reduce costs. Graphic Packaging has 23 folding carton facilities, 4 mills, 2 packaging machinery manufacturing facilities, and 1 flexible packaging facility. Altivity Packaging has 24 folding carton facilities, 12 multi-wall & specialty bag facilities, 6 mills, 5 flexible packaging facilities, 5 ink facilities, 3 label facilities and 1 packaging machinery equipment facility.
As a result of the transaction, the new company projects it will achieve annual gross merger synergies of over $90 million expected to be fully realized by 2011, with approximately 2/3rds realized by 2009. Although restructuring charges are anticipated to result from the integration, the new company is expected to generate cash flow from synergies in excess of the cash payments used for restructuring charges in each year. Such synergies are expected to be achieved through operating expense reductions, supply chain procurement changes, mill optimization efforts and manufacturing process improvements.
Altivity Packaging management expects to achieve 2007 EBITDA in excess of $200 million excluding one-time costs to achieve cost savings and other one- time expenses of an estimated $35 million. Altivity Packaging management forecasts stand-alone cost reductions of approximately $50 million in 2007 and an additional $45 million in annual cost savings to be fully achieved by 2009. Altivity Packaging's stand-alone savings will result from manufacturing network optimization efforts, overhead reduction and supply-chain improvements and are separate from the gross merger synergies of over $90 million expected to be derived from the combination of Graphic Packaging and Altivity Packaging.
Daniel J. Blount, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Graphic Packaging, stated, "We expect the combined companies to generate substantial cash flow to accelerate debt reduction, improve leverage ratios, finance ongoing investment and fund growth initiatives. The transaction is anticipated to be accretive to earnings per share and free cash flow by 2008. Both companies have proven track records in merger integration, cost reduction and synergy attainment, and demonstrated ongoing productivity and quality programs. This transaction presents an attractive opportunity on all fronts."
SOURCE: Graphic Packaging Corporation