Private deal should secure Whakatane mill

Wednesday 2 Jun 2021

Private equity reprieve for Whakatāne mill - A consortium of local and European private equity investors has emerged to throw a lifeline to the Whakatāne Mills, which had been slated for closure at the end of next month.

No valuation is disclosed in the statement today from the consortium, which involves Auckland-based Ross George, a founder of Auckland-based private equity firm, Direct Capital, who appears to be investing in his own right.

The consortium is led by London-based Dermot Smurfit, who like George is listed as a 33% shareholder of Power Paperboard Ltd, a company registered at the New Zealand companies office last Tuesday, along with Swiss-based investor Raymond Alan Dargan.

The deal will save an unknown number of the 210 jobs at the mill, which is one of the Bay of Plenty town’s biggest employers. The statement announcing the deal said the mill would stop producing packaging for liquid products – essentially paper-based drink packaging – and concentrate on “high quality folding box board, carrier board and food service board, all of which are currently manufactured at the mill”.

The new owners intended to invest heavily in the plant to make it “a more competitive operation to support customers in New Zealand and around the world,” said Ian Halliday, who will become chairman of Whakatāne Mill.

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Source: BusinessDesk

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