SOUTH AFRICA – Huhtamaki, a global food and drinks packaging firm based in Finland is set to acquire a majority stake of 70% in South Africa-based flexible packaging manufacturer, Everest Flexibles for approximately €58 million (approximately US$63m).

The sellers of Durban-headquartered Everest Flexibles shares have agreed to enter into a joint venture with Huhtamaki’s Foodservice and Fibre Packaging operations in South Africa.

The business will be merged with Huhtamaki’s current flexible packaging sales organisation in South Africa, and it will become part of the company’s Flexible Packaging business segment. As a result, Everest will own 30% of Huhtamaki’s activities in South Africa.

Huhtamaki claims that the acquisition will significantly enhance its flexible packaging manufacturing operations in the country as Everest’s manufacturing unit is located near a major seaport and road network, adding a strategically-located facility to the company’s logistics network.

Olli Koponen executive vice-president, of Huhtamaki’s Flexible Packaging division said: “With Everest we will be able to serve our current and new customers in South Africa and the surrounding region even better, offering them a full range of flexible packaging solutions with faster lead times.’’

“We will have two flexible packaging manufacturing units in Africa, Everest and the recently opened facility in Egypt. With these two sites we will be in an excellent position to tap into the growth opportunities of this exciting region.”

In April, Huhtamaki, inaugurated a new state-of-the-art flexible packaging facility in Egypt at an investment worth US$26.03 million. Located in Cairo, the packaging unit sits on a 37,000 square meters land.

Huhtamaki, as a subsidiary of Finland-based Huhtamäki Oyj, launched its operation in the country in 2003 through a joint venture with Mr. Ayman Korra.

According to the firm, Huhtamaki investment in the US$26.03 million manufacturing unit amounts to approximately US$19.24 million representing 75% share while Mr. Ayman Korra financed the remaining 25% at US$6.79 million.

Currently, the packaging group boasts of 78 manufacturing units in addition to 24 sales offices across 34 countries and an employee base of approximately 17,700.