Former Paperlinx business subsumed into Japanese giant

By Jo Francis, Thursday 04 July 2019

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The renamed former Paperlinx business has been sold to a Japanese paper group.

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Paperlinx, now Spicers, is being subsumed into a larger business

The Paperlinx name was consigned to the historybooks when the Australian-headquartered firm was renamed Spicers in 2015, after the group retrenched to its home markets following the collapse of the its UK merchanting business and messy exit from Europe.

A scheme of arrangement for the A$148m (£82.6m) takeover of Spicers by Kokusai Pulp & Paper has just been approved by the Federal Court of Australia, with trading in Spicers shares set to cease as result.

Paperlinx was the UK’s largest paper merchant, employing around 1,200 staff, when it went spectacularly bust in April 2015.

Unsecured creditors, including pension schemes with a claim at the time from the PPF for £180m, were owed more than £300m

Subsequently, the Pension Protection Fund finalised its claim against Robert Horne Group at £234m, and at £31m for Howard Smith Paper Group.

The Paperlinx UK businesses are now in liquidation. Last year administrators from Deloitte distributed more than £35m to unsecured creditors of 14 of the 18 Paperlinx companies involved, with the amounts varying wildly, from 100p in the pound to just 0.63p.

In its latest update filed in May Deloitte said that the joint liquidators intended to pay a second and final dividend to unsecured creditors “as soon as practicable” where funds permitted, although the quantum of the dividend was not yet known.

There were insufficient funds to make a distribution in the cases of Pinnacle Film & Board Sales, Precision Publishing Papers, Sheet & Roll Convertors, and Trade Paper.

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