BERY

Ball to Sell 11 Plants to Appease EU Antitrust Regulators

An image of rising and declining prices Credit: Shutterstock photo

As per sources, Ball CorporationBLL has offered to sell 11 European plants in order to clinch approval from EU antitrust regulators for its £4.43 billion ($6.69 billion) acquisition of Rexam Plc REXMY .

Nine of the plants to be divested make cans while the other two manufacture can ends. Four factories are located in Germany, three in the UK, one each in Spain, France, the Netherlands and Austria.

The Ball Corporation and Rexam union would create the world's largest consumer packaging supplier with command over 60% of the beverage can market in North America, 69% in Europe and 74% in Brazil. The combined company would employ a workforce of about 22,500 employees across five continents and generate revenues of about $15 billion. The merged company will be better positioned to serve its customer base through supply chain efficiency, manufacturing excellence and increased product innovation.

The acquisition will not only counter competition from other packaging rivals but also facilitate production of sustainable, innovative and low-cost packaging solutions. Moreover, it will reduce warehousing and transport costs.

However, EU antitrust regulators started an in-depth investigation to assess whether the proposed transaction will reduce competition in the beverage can and aluminum bottle manufacturing industry in the European Economic Area (EEA). It apprehends that the deal would push up prices for both companies and consumers.

In addition to the plants mentioned above, Ball has stated that it is ready to sell more than $1.58 billion worth of assets to dispel regulatory concerns. Simultaneously, it is in discussion with antitrust authorities in the U.S. regarding assets it may have to divest here.

Last week, Ball confirmed that the European Commission has entered into a period of market testing which has been extended to Jan 22, 2016, based upon commitments proposed by Rexam and Ball. These commitments have been recommended with a view of obtaining EU clearance for the deal.

Ball expects to receive the necessary regulatory clearance for the deal by the first half of 2016. Ball and Rexam intend to work on a package of remedies to put competition concerns to rest.

Meanwhile, Ball Corp. is focused on ramping up capital projects and expects to grow through investments, the emphasis being on continuous improvement in cash flow. Product launches and inorganic expansion will also drive growth. However, concerns regarding the successful integration of the acquired company as well as unfavorable foreign exchange fluctuations, elevated aluminum premiums and the uncertainty of government funding programs for the Aerospace segment remain as headwinds.

Broomfield, CO-based Ball Corporation is the largest manufacturer of beverage cans in North America. It also supplies aerospace as well as other technologies and services to the government and other customers.

Currently, Ball Corp. has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the sector are Berry Plastics Group Inc. BERY and Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget SCA SVCBY , both carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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BALL CORP (BLL): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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