For International Paper (IP), business is a global paper chase. It is one of the world's largest manufacturers of printing papers. Products include uncoated paper used in printers, market pulp for making towels and tissues, and coated paper and uncoated bristols (heavyweight art paper). In the US, IP is #1 in containerboard production, 70% of which is used in industrial corrugated boxes. A consumer packaging arm makes board to box cosmetics and food. IP's distribution unit, xpedx, sells products and supply chain services to multiple markets in North America. IP owns recycling plants, mainly in the US, and a pulp and paper business in Russia, via a 50/50 venture with Ilim Holding.
In a major deal valued at about $4.5 billion, which included the assumption of $700 million in debt, IP acquired Temple-Inland in February 2012. Making more than 80% of its revenue from corrugated packaging, Temple-Inland will significantly expand IP's packaging operations in North America. At the time of the transaction, Temple-Inland owned seven containerboard mills and almost 60 converting facilities. To satisfy a US Department of Justice requirement relating to the acquisition, IP sold three of Temple-Inland's containerboard mills. Two in California were sold to New-Indy Containerboard, a joint venture between Kraft Group and Schwarz Partners, and one in Tennessee was sold to Hood Container.
The milestone acquisition came on the heels of the release of IP's impressive 2011 financial numbers, which represented the company's best financial results in almost two decades due to increased prices, an improved product mix, and efficient cost management. Experiencing a 3% bump in revenue from 2010 to 2011, the company saw its net income skyrocket over 100% ($644 million to $1.3 billion). It attributed growth in emerging markets as well as tax benefits and the lower costs, expenses, and impairment charges paid throughout the year as chief reasons for the earnings increase.
To continue to adjust its cost structure, in late 2011 IP merged its consumer packaging subsidiary, Shorewood Packaging, with Atlas Holdings' specialty packaging business, AGI World, to create a new company, AGI-Shorewood. Atlas Holdings owns 100% of AGI-Shorewood in the US and 60% of it outside the US. IP holds the remaining 40% of the new company outside the US. Shorewood was part of IP's consumer packaging segment, which suffered heavy losses over the years due to high raw material, shipping, and other costs. The deal fit the bill for Atlas, an investment firm that routinely acquires underperforming subsidiaries from larger companies.
Also in IP's plans is the addition of lower-cost paper mills, which expand the company's uncoated free sheet production capacity, shrink marginal costs, as well as open the door to serving regional demand in developing markets. In mid-2010 it purchased Svenska Cellulosa's Asian packaging business for $205 million. The acquisition deepened IP's footprint with 13 corrugated box plants and two specialty packaging facilities, mainly in China. All told, IP's Asia operations comprise around 20 containerboard plants in China, and a few facilities in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. – less