US trade body opposes proposed Ardagh purchase of Verallia North America

Tuesday 02 July 2013 10.36
US Federal Trade Commission not happy with Ardagh's proposed $1.7 billion deal for Verallia North America
US Federal Trade Commission not happy with Ardagh's proposed $1.7 billion deal for Verallia North America

The US Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint aimed at stopping Ardagh Group's proposed $1.7 billion acquisition of Verallia North America.

Verallia North America, a division of France's Saint-Gobain, makes glass containers for the US market.

Industry leader Owens-Illinois, Saint-Gobain Containers and Ardagh dominate the $5 billion US market for glass containers.

The FTC said that Ardagh's purchase of the unit would result in the Irish company and Owen-Illinois controlling in excess of 75% of the US market for beer and spirits bottles.

“This combination would lead to higher costs for brewers and distillers and less innovation in the glass container industry. Ultimately, this transaction will result in higher prices for consumers,'' the FTC added in a statement.

Ardagh, which specialises in cans and bottles for food and drink, entered the US glass container market in 2012 when it bought third-ranking Anchor Glass Container and the much smaller Leone Industries.

Ardagh said in mid-January that it would pay $1.7 billion for Saint-Gobain's North American glass container operation.

In a statement last night, Ardagh said it was disappointed in the FTC decision.

"Ardagh intends to vigourously defend the transaction in litigation, whilst at the same time working with the FTC to seek to resolve its concerns," the company said last night.

A Saint-Gobain spokesman said the company would defend the deal while also working with the FTC to try a reach a solution. The company hoped to close the deal as soon as possible.

Saint-Gobain plans to exit the low-margin business and focus on higher-margin building materials operations.