Greif Inc.’s decision to acquire Caraustar Industries, Inc. for $1.8 billion in cash was met with discouraging outlook from several credit ratings companies and analysts.
On Thursday, Greif, a manufacturer of industrial packaging, revealed that it is buying Caraustar from an affiliate of private equity firm H.I.G. Capital. The announcement led to Moody’s Investors Service considering a downgrade on Greif. Moody's said its review for the downgrade is based on "the significant incremental debt, change in risk profile and the integration risk inherent in the transaction." Also, BMO Capital Markets lowered Greif's rating from "Outperform" to a "Underperform."
Greif, however, said that the acquisition is expected to boost its earnings, margins and free cash flow, and to create annual cost synergies of at least $45 million within 36 months. According to the company, the addition of Caraustar would increase Greif's U.S. sales to roughly two thirds of total consolidated sales, from about half for fiscal 2018. Caraustar’s leadership in uncoated and coated recycled paperboards would help Greif expand its market, according to Greif.