Employees approve offer for French Arjo sites ahead of court decision

Rhys Handley
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Employees at the French Arjowiggins sites in administration have agreed to accept an improved offer put forward by Lessebo.

Swedish wood and paper group Lessebo, spearheaded in this instance by shareholder and Norwegian businessman Terje Haglund, presented its improved offer to buy the sites in Bessé-sur-Braye, Bourray and Château-Thierry from parent company Sequana on Friday (15 March).

French media reports initially said Lessebo could provide €33m (£28.4m) conditional on state aid estimated at €32m, but changes to the offer have not been made public.

An update on behalf of Arjowiggins employees confirmed yesterday (19 March) that representatives of the sites’ employees had accepted the deal almost unanimously.

The offer is now set to go before the Commercial Court of Nanterre for final approval later today (20 March) and its ruling will be reported in PrintWeek in due course.

Haglund confirmed to PrintWeek earlier this month that Lessebo proposes to retain 413 of 580 staff working at the Bessé-sur-Braye plant, 210 of the 270 based at the Bourray plant and all 75 employees at Château-Thierry. The sites went into receivership in January.

Last week, PrintWeek learned that three offers for Arjo’s UK-based Creative Papers operation were being courted, two for both its Chartham, Kent, and Stoneywood, Aberdeenshire, mills, and a third solely for the Chartham base.

In a report released by UK administrator FRP Advisory at the start of the month, there had been 13 indicative offers or expressions of interest for Arjo's UK operations, with four interested in the land and assets of Chartham, six in acquiring Arjowiggins Fine Papers and Chartham as part of a wider purchase of the Creative Papers division, and others variously interested in Arjo's property, assets, land or stock.

The Chartham mill employs 90 staff while 489 people work at the Stoneywood mill.

FRP Advisor has not commented.

In figures up to the end of 2017, Arjowiggins was internationally responsible for 2,300 employees on a turnover of €562m (£482m). From 11 sites, it sold 450,000 tons of paper.

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