Sequana, the parent company of Arjowiggins and currently the majority shareholder in Antalis is to be liquidated, a court has ruled.
The decision was announced yesterday by the Commercial Court of Nanterre.
Sequana will be liquidated over a two-year period by a court-appointed liquidator, and the group will ask Euronext to continue the suspension of its share trading on the Paris Stock Exchange.
The decision comes after a High Court ruling was upheld by the London Court of Appeal in February, ordering Sequana to pay a €163m (£143m) to British American Tobacco (BAT) in a protracted dispute over the distribution of dividends in 2008 and 2009.
Following the court ruling the company’s safeguarding procedure was converted to a bankruptcy filing by the court on 21 March with an observation period set until 18 May, during which time Sequana has been unable to come up with a recovery plan.
A statement on Sequana’s website says the decision to liquidate the business has resulted from its inability to present a recovery plan in light of its liabilities linked with the BAT dispute.
In addition, it states, most companies in the Arjowiggins group are currently subject to insolvency proceedings, and Sequana is not in a position to support those commitments or to finance their operation and litigation costs any longer.
Arjowiggins group’s French site Besse sur Braye went into liquidation in March while its Château-Thierry site, known as Greenfield, was bought by German paper group Wepa and its Le Bourray operation was part-purchased by local family-run business CGMP.
Meanwhile, Arjowiggins UK operations went into administration in January with Arjowiggins Creative Papers mills at Stoneywood and Chartham continuing to trade while seeking a buyer. Administrators from FRP Advisory are progressing discussions with a preferred bidder.
A spokesman told PrintWeek there was no further update on the sale as of this morning (16 May).
Meanwhile Antalis, of which Sequana is still a major shareholder with a 75% share, will continue working with advisors Goldman Sachs to set up a new shareholding structure that aims to remove the paper group as the majority shareholder.
Formerly owned by Sequana, Antalis underwent an IPO in 2017 making it an independent company with its own stock market listing.
A spokesman said the company had nothing to add to the previous comments of managing director David Hunter following yesterday’s ruling.