Atlanta, GA 7/7/2009 12:25:57 AM
News / Business

Bemis (NYSE: BMS) Buys Alcan Packaging for $1.2B from Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE: RTP)

Bemis Company, Inc. (NYSE: BMS) announced Sunday that it will pay $1.2 billion in cash and stock for the U.S. packaging business of Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE: RTP).


The move will make Bemis, which makes plastic packaging that grocers use to wrap steaks and cheeses, the world's dominant player in the packaging market.


The acquisition boosts Bemis' share of the global food packaging market from 57 percent to 70 percent at a time while its competitors struggle during this worldwide recession.


The deal for the assets, known collectively as Alcan Packaging Food Americas, includes 23 facilities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and New Zealand. The business had sales of $1.5 billion last year and 4,600 employees.


The move is the latest by Rio to reduce its $23.9 billion debt after raising fresh capital last week through a share issue. Rio incurred significant debt in its 2007 purchase of Canadian aluminum giant Alcan Inc. for $38 billion.


Bemis, which reported a total debt of $617.4 million at the end of the first quarter, said it will borrow $1 billion and issue $200 million in stock. The company recently had about 103.3 million shares outstanding.


Bemis said the deal will boost its net sales by 40 percent to some $5.3 billion annually. It will have more than 20,000 employees and 84 manufacturing facilities worldwide. The deal for Alcan should also boost earnings, starting next year, it said.


So far in 2009, Rio Tinto has announced a total of $3.7 billion of asset sales, including its interest in an aluminum smelter in China, Brazilian iron ore operations and a coal mine in the United States.


Shares in Bemis stock are up $1.20 (4.94%) to $25.48 in afternoon trading, while Rio Tinto stock dropped $11.08 (6.99%) to $147.41 in the New York Stock Exchange.




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