Berry given March deadline to make an offer for RPC Group

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Berry Global Group Inc. only has until mid-March to determine whether it actually will make an offer for RPC Group plc.

Berry, based in Evansville, Indiana, put at least a temporary halt to a previous $4.3bn (€3.8n) offer for RPC by private equity firm Apollo Management Group LLC by indicating it also had interest in the firm.

But the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers for the UK, a regulatory agency, indicated 19 Feb Berry has agreed to reveal its intentions by 13 March. RPC is based in Rusden, UK, which gives the panel a say in the matter.

Berry gave itself time in the process when it showed interest in late January days after RPC received an offer from Apollo. By designating this as a “final” offer, Apollo is not allowed to increase its bid under UK rules.

But while Berry signalled potential interest in RPC, the company did not commit to making a bid. Apollo’s inability to increase its offer has given Berry some time to explore the possible acquisition.

Regardless of who ultimately purchases RPC, the deal will be significant.

RPC makes plastic products in "all five major conversion processes," the company says in its annual report: injection moulding, blow moulding, thermoforming, rotational moulding and blown film extrusion.

RPC has about 24,000 employees around the world, and grew dramatically in North America with the 2017 purchase of Letica Corp. of Rochester Hills, Mich. That move more than doubled its North American business by adding 13 plants at the time.

While Berry has agreed to the 13 March deadline with the takeovers and mergers panel, the company previously indicated it would not be commenting publicly on a potential deal.

"There is no certainty that an offer will be made," Berry CEO Tom Salmon warned on a recent quarterly earnings conference call. "Further announcement in relation to RPC will be made … when appropriate."

Berry has until 13 March to “either announce a firm intention to make an offer for RPC” or “announce that it does not intend to make an offer for RPC,” the panel said in a 19 Feb statement.

Berry’s earlier decision to signal potential interest in RPC following Apollo’s final offer also opened the door for other companies to make a bid, but none have come forward publicly to date.

“The deadline will cease to apply if, before that time, a third party other than Berry has announced a firm intention to make an offer,” the takeover panel statement continued.

Berry has a history of growth through acquisitions, and has made deals in recent years to significantly expand the company.

A deal for RPC would be its largest ever, just about doubling its workforce and adding almost $5bn (€4.4bn) in annual sales to its existing $7.9bn (€6.9bn).

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