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PaperlinX update: Irish operation sold

Tuesday, 16 June 2015
By Print21

PaperlinX has confirmed the sale of its Irish business as the company continues its long road out of Europe.

PaperlinX Limited confirms that following satisfaction of completion conditions, the sale of PaperlinX Ireland Holdings and its trading operations to the Irish management team has been completed, the company said in a statement to the ASX.

The Irish business has been bought by former director Enda Brophy and will be renamed GPM Sign & Display and GPM Commercial Print, according to UK reports.  The company employs about 65 staff.

The two remaining PaperlinX European divisions, in the Czech Republic and Germany, continue to trade as the company pushes ahead with its plans to sell them off as soon as possible.

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PaperlinX update, June 10: New details have emerged outlining the magnitude of the financial disaster that earlier this year consumed the UK’s largest paper merchant PaperlinX.

PaperlinX UK owed creditors more than $A106 million (£53m) when it was placed into administration early in April, according to figures just released by administrators Deloitte.

The company owed Dutch banking group ING £39.4 million before the bank withdrew its credit insurance, leading to the collapse of the paper merchant’s UK operation.

In its first Statement of Proposals ahead of a creditors’ meeting scheduled for today (June 10), Deloitte also revealed that PaperlinX had a massive pension fund deficit of about $A360 million (£180m) at the time.

Today’s creditors meeting is for PaperlinX Services (Europe) and the company’s three main businesses – Robert Horne Group, The Paper Company and Howard Smith Paper Group.

UK reports say paper manufacturer Stora Enso is owed £10.5m by PaperlinX companies, while Lecta Paper is owed £6m and Arctic Paper is owed almost £3m.

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PaperlinX update, June 2: PaperlinX has entered into agreements to sell its operations in Scandinavia, Spain and Ireland, leaving the group with just two remaining European businesses in the Czech Republic and Germany.

PaperlinX Limited chief executive Andy Preece told AAP the company was pleased that the divisions would continue to operate.

The Scandinavian business, which includes operations in Denmark and Sweden, has been sold to global paper and packaging distributor Antalis International, which last month bought PaperlinX UK’s packaging operation. The Spanish business, PaperlinX SL, has been sold to the Spanish management team, and an agreement to sell the Irish business to the Irish management team was signed on Tuesday.

The two remaining PaperlinX businesses in Europe, the Czech Republic and Germany, continue to trade as the company attempts to either sell or realise the operations.

Since the collapse of its UK business early in April, PaperlinX has now shut down units in The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Ireland, while selling off its UK wide-format, packaging and Reel Paper divisions.

PPX businesses in Australia, New Zealand and Asia (ANZA) have financial separation from the European operations.

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PaperlinX update, May 19: PaperlinX has sold its business in Poland to a private equity-backed consortium in an agreement which takes immediate effect.  It’s the latest deal in the wake of the collapse of the company’s UK business last month.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Paperlinx Limited said: European subsidiary PaperlinX Netherlands Holding BV, has entered into an agreement to sell its operations in Poland to a consortium of a local private equity firm,Warsaw Equity Management sp z.o.o. and the local management team, with immediate effect.

“After an intensive sale process, we are pleased to announce the successful sale of this business to the management and their financial sponsors,” said PaperlinX CEO Andy Preece. “We wish the Polish management team and their employees all the best in the future.”

All proceeds of the sale, which was for an undisclosed amount, will go the company’s European shareholders.

Since closing its UK business early in April, PaperlinX has now shut down operations in The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Poland, while selling off its UK wide-format, packaging and Reel Paper divisions. The company continues to operate in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Spain.

PPX businesses in Australia, New Zealand and Asia (ANZA) have financial separation from the European operations and ANZA operations ‘remain unchanged.’

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PaperlinX update, May 7: Global paper and packaging distributor Antalis has bought PaperlinX UK’s packaging operation in a deal that will take its UK packaging supplies business to £80 million a year.

Antalis has acquired three packaging companies – 1st Class Packaging, Donington Packaging Supplies and Parkside Packaging – which have all been up for sale since the collapse of PaperlinX UK last month.  The companies, with a estimated total turnover of £20m, have continued to operate as normal since PaperlinX UK was placed into administration on 1st April.

David Hunter, managing director at Antalis, said the acquisition would further enhance the company’s position as a key player in the UK packaging sector and would secure the jobs of 63 employees.

Antalis is a major distributor of packaging systems and products, including materials such as cartons, containers, bubble film, wrapping papers and tapes, packaging machinery and bespoke solutions, and also provides professional consultancy services to analyse packaging logistics.

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PaperlinX update, May 5: PaperlinX has dumped its chief financial officer (CFO) in the ongoing fallout from the company’s collapse in Europe and the new CFO will be based in Australia. 

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, PaperlinX said: Joost Smallenbroek, who is based in the Netherlands, will no longer hold the position of CFO, with immediate effect. Due to the changes currently occurring in the PaperlinX business in the UK, the Benelux and across the European region, the CFO position is no longer required to be based in Continental Europe.

“I would like to thank Joost for his efforts at PaperlinX,” said Andy Preece, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of PaperlinX.

Wayne Johnson has assumed the role of CFO, which will now be based in Melbourne. Johnson joined the company in 2009 and was deputy CFO and executive general manager corporate services prior to his appointment. Before joining PaperlinX, he occupied a number of commercial and corporate finance roles at Symbion Health Limited (formerly Mayne Group Limited).

“The Board are extremely pleased that Wayne has accepted the role of CFO and are looking forward to working closely with him,” said Preece.

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PaperlinX update, April 30: PaperlinX has placed its Austrian operation PaperNet GmbH into administration after failing to find a buyer.

PaperNet is the latest domino to fall in PaperlinX’s European business, following the collapse of the UK operation on 1 April and the Benelux businesses a couple of weeks later.  PaperNet employed a staff of about 70.

“This appointment in Austria highlights the interconnectedness of the PaperlinX European businesses,” said PaperlinX in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange:

The local directors were required to commence this course of action given the liquidity issues that the business has faced following the tightening and/or withdrawal of credit terms from suppliers and lenders in recent weeks after the PaperlinX UK and Benelux businesses were placed into administration. Although attempts to sell this business have been unsuccessful, PaperlinX will continue to pursue opportunities to divest the remaining European businesses in Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Scandinavia, Ireland and Germany.

PaperlinX reiterated that its profitable operations in Australia, New Zealand and Asia (ANZA) have financial separation from the European operations and said that the day-to-day businesses and operations of the ANZA region ‘remain unchanged.‘

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PaperlinX update, April 28: Global plastics group Vink Holdings has acquired collapsed PaperlinX UK’s wide-format operation Visual Technology Solutions (VTS) in a deal that will save 66 jobs.

After weeks of negotiations, administrators Deloitte said the VTS business had been sold to Vink-owned Quantum Europoint, and the new business would trade as Europoint.  Vink Holdings CEO David Williams said 66 staff members would keep their jobs, including managing director Frank Moran, who will head up the new operation.

The deal came days after Premier Paper Group snapped up PaperlinX’s Reel Paper and Savory Paper business.  Deloitte has given the go ahead to an online auction next month to dispose of the remaining assets from the failed PaperlinX UK business.

Meanwhile, in another setback to the UK paper industry, Fife-based paper maker Tullis Russell has gone into administration with the loss of 325 jobs.  Administrators KPMG said 325 Tullis employees were being made redundant with immediate effect and the remaining 149 have been retained to complete some outstanding orders.  Tullis Russell Papermakers posted losses of £18.5m over the past five years.

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PaperlinX update, April 22: Administrators at Deloitte have given the green light to a massive online auction next month to dispose of assets from the failed PaperlinX UK business.

Hundreds of lots and individual items are up for sale from PaperlinX locations at Manchester, Macclesfield, Northampton – Moulton Park and Northampton – Brackmills.

Hilco Industrial, which is organising the auction under direction from Deloitte, says items on offer will include: Paper and Board Converting units, Digital and Lithographic Printing equipment, Vinyl Plotting and Cutting machinery, Ream Packing Machinery. Warehouse Equipment, Racking, Forklift Trucks and Office Furniture.  The sale is due to take place on 11-13 May.  A complete list of the available assets on sale can be found here.

Deloitte says the auction is subject to change pending any progress in their continuing efforts to sell off PaperlinX’s UK business and assets.  There’s speculation that Deloitte is considering bids for the company’s UK business, with Spanish paper manufacturer Lecta touted as a potential buyer.

The move came days after PaperlinX shut down its Benelux business in the Netherlands and Belgium, in the wake of the collapse of its UK operation early this month.

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PaperlinX update, April 21: PaperlinX sell-off underway in the UK

Premier Paper Group has snapped up PaperlinX’s Reel Paper and Savory Paper in a deal with administrators at Deloitte that could save 30 jobs.

“The Premier Paper Group has acquired the assets of PaperlinX’s Reel Paper and Savory Paper division and offered positions to more than 30 former Paperlinx employees,” Graham Griffiths, managing director, Premier Paper Group, said in a statement:

“This is an excellent opportunity to grow our business in this sector and the fit with our current business ensures that paper producers have a route to market and customers have a service offer that they can rely on.  The recent unfortunate events at Paperlinx have resulted in redundancy for many people. We are delighted to be able offer more than 30 jobs to a team of people with many years experience and a great track record in the business forms, direct mail and digital inkjet markets.”  

Reel Paper and Savory Paper supplied paper to direct mail, business forms and high-speed inkjet markets.  The new division, renamed Premier Reel Paper, will be based at the PaperlinX site at Castle Donington in the East Midlands.

The move comes days after PaperlinX shut down its Benelux business in the Netherlands and Belgium in the wake of the collapse of its UK operation earlier this month.

There’s continued speculation that Deloitte is considering bids for PaperlinX UK, with Spanish paper manufacturer Lecta touted as a potential buyer.  Deloitte has yet to comment.

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