Amcor leads European plastic packaging pack, as sector shows rapid powers of recovery

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mergers and acquisitions

A spate of merger and acquisitions as Europe’s leading plastic packaging players increasingly focus on core activities is evidence the sector has recovered swiftly from the crippling financial recession of 2008, according to a report by industry analysts Applied Market Information (AMI).

The UK-based consultants also said that Amcor remains the largest European plastic packaging company as it revealed the region’s top ten strongest firms by value.

Selling out of choice

The updated report - Corporate performance and ownership among plastics packaging producers – A review of Europe’s 50 largest players​ - examines how plastic producers have bounced back in the wake of the global economic downturn. The reasons behind the healthy jump in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity are as significant as the actual number of takeovers, said the group

“M&A activity had picked up as businesses are coming to the market with the recession behind them and 12-18 months of solid trading to value the business on”,​ AMI senior researcher Carole Kluth told

She added: “Businesses are now also looking to sell out of choice rather than because they are distressed as may have happened in 2009. This is helping to improve the attractiveness of companies to potential buyers and even leading to some bid situations as has been seen recently with Reynolds Group Holdings now coming in for Graham Packaging displacing Silgan's earlier bid.”

The Amcor factor

The consultants labelled the US$1.9bn acquisition of Alcan by Amcor, inked in February 2010, as the “major change”​ in the European arena in recent years that reinforced the Australian company’s position as Europe’s largest plastic packaging producer in value terms.

Prior to the buyout, Amcor divested its rigid packaging operations so that it could focus on its European flexible business, said AMI.

Other major changes in the plastic packaging landscape include Huhtamaki’s sale of its rigid plastic division to private equity outfit Sun European Partners for €52m at the end of 2010 and RPC’s €240m acquisition of Superfos six months ago, said the analysts.

It also highlighted moves by Rexam to off-load various food packaging plants to focus on the healthcare and beauty sectors as being significant.

Other top plastic producers

AMI researchers have also compiled a list of Europe’s top 50 plastic producers by volume.

Alpla is highlighted as the region’s second biggest producer after Amcor – consuming in excess of 700,000tonnes per year (t/y) at its European plants.

Unlike most other leading players, the Austro-German firm “continues to grow its business mainly by investment in greenfield and in-plant factories”,​ said the industry research.

There has been a “particularly intense period of growth​” for the company since 2006, with it adding almost 40 new sites worldwide for the manufacture of various bottles, containers and closures.

Next in the ranking is Sealed Air Corp with European plastics packaging related sales exceeding €1bn in 2010.

However, AMI predicts Sealed Air’s number three position will come under pressure this year from RPC following its takeover of Superfos. Thanks to the buyout, the UK-based rigid packaging outfit is expecting to realise sales in excess of €1.1bn.

“RPC's strategy has been to grow its business through such strategic acquisitions, although rising costs have also seen the group review its operation to ensure that it focuses on the most appropriate and attractive plastics packaging businesses,”​ said the report.

Below is the AMI ranking of Europe's top ten plastic producers by volume:


Head office location


Plastics technology used




Injection moulding/film extrusion




Blow moulding/injection moulding

Sealed Air



Film extrusion/sheet extrusion

Aptar Group



Injection moulding

Linpac Group



Film extrusion/sheet extrusion/injection moulding/rotational moulding




Blow moulding, injection moulding, sheet extrusion

Constantia Flexibles



Film extrusion

Klöckner Pentaplast



Sheet extrusion/calendering

Promens Group



Blow moulding, injection moulding, sheet extrusion




Blow moulding/injection moulding

Source: AMI

A copy of the full report - Corporate performance and ownership among plastics packaging producers – A review of Europe’s 50 largest players - is available from AMI

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