Packaging group Ardagh surges 19 percent in New York debut: Reuters

Packaging company Ardagh Group (ARD.N) surged 19 percent in its New York debut on Wednesday, valuing the firm at about $5.3 billion after it raised $307.8 million in an initial public offering to help to pay down debt.

Shares in the Luxembourg-based supplier of glass and metal containers hit $22.55 at 1622 GMT, 19 percent above their $19 IPO price.

Chairman Paul Coulson, who owns about a third of the group, said there were no plans to follow up the IPO with additional issuance.

“We think we’ve priced it at the right level,” Coulson told Reuters in an interview. “We were very focused on bringing on the right type of investor, and we got a fantastic investor base.”

He declined to name any investors but said “all the big guys were there” including a couple of large European investors.

Coulson has transformed Ardagh from a small, single plant operation to a company that operates out of over 100 facilities in 22 countries.

Ardagh, which has been making Dutch brewer Heineken’s (HEIO.AS) green beer bottles for over 25 years, has said it will use the proceeds of the IPO to pay down debt which stood at $7.2 billion or over five times its annual earnings last year.

Coulson said investors were “extremely comfortable” with the Ardagh’s debt levels and they had not been prescriptive about the rate of deleveraging.

The 16.2 million class A common shares issued represented approximately 6.9 percent of Ardagh’s share capital.

Ardagh opted for a relatively modest IPO as the group was keen avoid dilution, Coulson said.

“There may be issuance in the future associated with an acquisition, but not now,” he said.

The packaging producer, which also counts L’Oreal (OREP.PA) and Coca-Cola among its clients, has grown its annual revenue to 7.7 billion euros through a series of acquisitions.

It will continue to keep an eye out for acquisition opportunities, Coulson said, but there is “nothing in the traps” at the moment.

While the IPO provides a route to public market liquidity for smaller investors in the company, Coulson said he had no plans to offload any of his own shares.