O’Mahony to step down as Smurfit chair as group sees earnings jump

Liam O’Mahony is to retire as chair of paper packaging giant Smurfit Kappa.

Mr O’Mahony, who will retire from the board following the Smurfit Kappa AGM next May, will be replaced by Irial Finan.

Mr O’Mahony joined the board of Smurfit Kappa when the group was admitted to trading on the Irish Stock Exchange (Euronext Dublin) and the London Stock Exchange in 2007.

He has served as chair of the group since December 2008.

“It has been a privilege to chair the board of Smurfit Kappa group,” Mr O’Mahony said.

“The last 10 years have been a transformative time for the business and I have been lucky to work alongside a group of outstanding professionals, both on the board and throughout the business.”

Tony Smurfit, CEO of the group, thanked Mr O’Mahony for his contribution to the group.

“He has fully dedicated himself to the role of chair and has overseen the significant development of the group over the period,” Mr Smurfit said.

“His leadership and guidance has been invaluable and he leaves the group in a position of strength and with exciting prospects in the short, medium and long term.”

His replacement Mr Finan joined the board of Smurfit Kappa in February 2012.

Mr Finan has been chair of the remuneration committee since 2015 and a member of the audit committee since his appointment.

Previously he was executive VP of the Coca-Cola Company and president of the Bottling Investments Group from 2004 until he stepped down from the role in December 2017 and retired in March 2018.

He originally joined the Coca-Cola system in 1981.

Meanwhile, Smurfit Kappa has reported a 27pc increase in pre-exceptional earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) to €1.3bn in the nine months to 30 September.

The earnings margin was 16.9pc, according to a trading update from the group.

Smurfit Kappa reported a 7pc increase year-on-year in underlying revenue growth during the nine month period.

The performance was drived by continued demand growth across most markets as well as corrugated price recovery initiatives.

Separately and the company also announced the acquisitions of Fabrika Hartije a paper mill and Avala Ada a corrugated plant, in Belgrade, for a total consideration of €133m.

The group said that the acquisitions would expand its geographic footprint and provide for full containerboard integration in the group’s packaging operations in Southeast Europe.

The transaction reflects a pre-synergy multiple of 7.6 times the expected full year 2018 EBITDA and it  will be funded from the group’s existing resources.

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