Finland’s giant food packager Huhtamaki Oyj wants to wrap up more buys

Finland’s Huhtamaki Oyj is on the hunt for acquisitions — possibly even a large-scale deal — as the world’s biggest listed food-packaging company seeks to expand in new countries and build on profitable North American operations.

The maker of paper cups and bowls for global fast-food and coffee chains such as McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Starbucks has made a dozen acquisitions since 2011, and is planning a fresh round, chief executive Jukka Moisio said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Espoo, near the capital Helsinki.

Any sizable purchase could be funded with the sale of shares, which reached a record level this week.

“We look to find companies that complement our current focus and geographic footprint because there are many countries where we’re not present,” said Mr Moisio.

“The main areas are southeast Asia and Africa.”

A fresh wave of acquisitions would build on a decades-long transformation of Huhtamaki from a conglomerate, making everything from women’s clothing to electronics components.

Named after founder Heikki Huhtamaki, the son of a village baker who started a candy-making business almost a century ago, the company’s focus grew out of an in-house packaging operation.

It now competes with Denmark’s Hartmann to be the world’s largest egg carton maker, and vies for disposable cutlery customers with Dart Container in the US and Italy’s Seda.

Huhtamaki has between €400m and €500m available for acquisitions and is in the market for targets in developed markets with annual revenue of €50m to €100m, Mr Moisio said.

The company is looking at smaller targets in emerging markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Positive Packaging, an Indian company that Huhtamaki bought last year to add some €220m in annual revenue, was an unusually large find, he said.

The CEO said he would consider issuing new shares or using its reserve stock to finance a larger, transformational acquisition.


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