Belfast Telegraph

Derry manufacturer Bemis Healthcare Packaging to be sold as condition of takeover of US parent

Marty Scaminaci, vice president of global business services at Bemis, and (right) Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton in 2017.
Marty Scaminaci, vice president of global business services at Bemis, and (right) Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton in 2017.
Paul Millar
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A major manufacturer in Co Londonderry is on the market after its US parent company announced a decision to sell over competition concerns following its own acquisition.

Bemis Healthcare Packaging in Campsie employs nearly 300 people and is a subsidiary of Bemis Co Inc in Neenah, Wisconsin.

But according to the latest company accounts for the business, Bemis is being sold to Australian company Amcor Limited, with the merger due to complete over the next few months.

But a condition of the sale, which has been imposed by the European Commission, is the disposal of Bemis plants in the UK and Ireland - including the plant in Campsie and another in Clara in Co Offaly.

Amcor operates Amcor Flexibles in Europe, which includes sites in Sligo and Cumbria.

The business makes packaging for markets including pet care, health care and home care.

Bemis in Londonderry specialises in sterile barrier systems which are used for medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

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Two years ago it also announced that the Campsie operation would also become a business services centre to support its European operations, with 95 jobs to be created between 2017 and 2021.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Paul Millar, a director of the Northern Ireland operation, said he believed the future of the site was assured.

"It's a highly successful standalone business in its own right," he said.

There was no further comment from the firm, including on the future of the proposed business services centre.

Company accounts said the directors are confident the business will continue as an ongoing concern.

The accounts said Amcor and Bemis had to obtain regulatory approval in order to complete the merger. The European Commission had approved the merger in February but on condition the three Bemis plants were sold.

A decision given by the commission on February 19 said it had held an investigation, with some respondents highlighting "potential adverse effects of the proposed transaction on competition in certain allegedly affected markets".

It said there were competition concerns affecting the companies' manufacture of healthcare packaging which did not affect other product areas, adding that the deal would "eliminate an important competitive force on the market for flexible packaging for medical use in the EEA".

However, it said that the scope of the divestment was in principle enough to remove its competition concerns.

The proposed sale of the business in Derry comes at a time of increasing sales. In its accounts for 2018, published by Companies House this week, it reported an increase in turnover from £57.9m to £64m, while pre-tax profits were also up from £10.8m to £12.6m.

The business was formerly known as Perfecseal. But it said that the business did face risks, mainly as a result of healthcare policies adopted by national governments across Europe.

"These risks are also addressed through not being overly reliant on any one customer, strong customer service as well as investment in its people and facilities," it added.

Bemis has operated in the Republic since taking over the Offaly operation of sterile packaging firm Steripack in 2016.

Belfast Telegraph