Paperlinx exits Europe

Paperlinx is exiting Europe altogether. Its Benelux operations have been put into administration with the rest of its European operations described as being in a sale or “realisations process”.

The group had been given a deadline of 15 April by invoice finance provider ING to find a buyer for its Benelux business, which PrintWeek understands employed around 375 staff.

But it was unable to secure a sale and the local directors have now been forced to put the business into administration.

In a statement, Paperlinx chief executive Andy Preece said he deeply regretted the impact on employees and stakeholders. “We have been completely open and transparent about the problems in our European operations for some time but our many repeated attempts to restore profitability have failed.”

In the UK there has been no official update on any potential offers for the up-for-sale Paperlinx businesses in administration, or the packaging business that is also up for sale.

An announcement is still believed to be imminent, with an ever-increasing array of potential bidders mooted.

Former chief executive Andrew Price has been linked with part of the business, as has Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

Last week Price told PrintWeek he was not interested in any Paperlinx assets.

A spokesman for APP said: “APP is constantly reviewing opportunities for growth. However, we currently do not have concrete plans to purchase Paperlinx UK.”

Antalis has also been linked with certain specialist parts of the Paperlinx UK operation.

The Paperlinx Benelux business, formerly Proost en Brandt, had a trading history dating back to 1742.

A local source said there was speculation that it could re-launch in a downsized single-site form under a new owner but nothing has been confirmed as yet.

Paperlinx said it “continues to progress” the sell-off of or realisation of assets in its other European subsidiaries in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Spain.

Paperlinx shares, which were subject to a voluntary suspension while it wrestled with the results of breaching its European covenants with ING, are now trading again. The share price rose from 1.7 Australian cents prior to the halt, to 2.5 cents when trading resumed.

Source: www.printweek.com

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