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Packaging giant Huhtamaki shows off new machines

By John Mulgrew

Finnish packaging giant Huhtamaki says it will look to grow its business here both "organically and by acquisitions" following the takeover of Delta Print in west Belfast.

That's according to Phillip Woolsey, general manager of Huhtamaki Lurgan.

But Petr Domin, executive vice-president Huhtamaki Molded Fiber, would not elaborate further on allegations the company as a group is accused of avoiding millions in tax.

Huhtamaki has allegedly been funnelling millions through a Dublin-registered shell company to Luxembourg in a complex intra-company 'hybrid-loan' finance structure.

"As a publicly-listed company we don't comment on specific finance agreement," Mr Domin told the Belfast Telegraph.

"One of the reasons for having this company is to allow us to keep currency other than the euro, which serves the cost-efficient hedging without external costs, and that we are able to progress with investments."

Although the process is entirely legal, it has been described as an aggressive tax avoidance scheme. Huhtamaki took over Delta Print in May, as part of a £80m acquisition, which also includes Delta's production plant in Poland - European Packaging Solutions. The company revealed its latest expansion at Huhtamaki in Lurgan yesterday with a new £5m molded-fibre machine and 13 new jobs. It now employs around 210 people at that site.

Mr Woolsey said the expansion would increase capacity. He said its egg packaging business in particularly had been growing fast.

"We have been doing well. Huhtamaki is a global business and they won't invest £5m somewhere unless we are doing well."

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