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New owners lining up for Smurfit group?

As Converting Today went to press, leading paper based packaging group Jefferson Smurfit was the subject of a $3.6 billion bid approach from US private equity house Madison Dearborn Partners. “Discussions are at a preliminary stage and may or may not lead to an offer being made for part or all of the company,” a statement said.

International financier George Soros is believed to be in discussions about joining in the bid with MDP, which already owns several paper and packaging businesses.

Irish based Smurfit is the world’s biggest producer of containerboard and corrugated containers, and a leading wastepaper recycler, with 600 facilities in Europe and North and South America. It has set up an independent committee of non executive directors to consider the offer, as the bid is subject to the continued involvement of the current management under any new ownership.

A statement explained: “The committee is empowered by the board to consider and take any appropriate action relating to the approach from MDP and in the best interests of shareholders”.

Irish Take-over Panel rules require board executives with a possible conflict of interest to exclude themselves from discussions on a take-over approach.

It has been suggested that Michael Smurfit may be behind the approach from MDP.