International Paper Says It Has Options If Smurfit Bids Fails

(Bloomberg) -- If International Paper Co.’s bid for Smurfit Kappa Group Plc doesn’t work out, the world’s largest paper maker says it will find other ways to take advantage of surging cardboard box demand.

There is “tremendous opportunity” for the Memphis, Tennessee-based company to grow organically and lower costs via increased automation, Chief Executive Officer Mark Sutton said Thursday in an interview.

International Paper is trying to go to the "next level" by acquiring Dublin-based Smurfit. However, the Irish box maker last month rejected a sweetened 8.9 billion-euro ($10.8 billion) takeover proposal as inadequate.

“This is a great option, Smurfit Kappa is a big one, but it’s by no means the only option we have,” Sutton said by telephone following his company’s first quarter earnings call. “This is not a must-do deal.”

The takeover bid comes amid a wave of industry consolidation, increasing packaging prices amid a global economic growth, and a rise in e-commerce, which is boosting demand for cardboard packaging. Earlier this year, WestRock Co. agreed to buy KapStone Paper & Packaging Corp. for about $3.4 billion.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.