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Corrugated Consolidation – June 2024 M&A Activity

Corrugated Consolidation

There has been a steady uptick in the number of acquisitions over the past twelve months of companies focused on the production of corrugated cartons. Recent deal activity involving the corrugating, printing, and converting of corrugated box products now exceeds that of any of the prior five years, including the number of deals we logged in the corrugated segment during 2019, the benchmark year before Covid disrupted everything.

From the largest players, such as International Paper, to the midsize integrated companies including Hood Container and Green Bay Packaging, to Welch Packaging, which is rolling up smaller companies, interest in fiber-based corrugated box businesses is keen and shows no sign of letting up. However, unlike the private equity-induced fever-pitch pace of deals in the label and flexible packaging segments that occurred prior to the Covid shutdown and continued apace up to the first quarter of 2023, transactions in the corrugated business have been, to date, driven primarily by buyers that are themselves steady-as-you-go family businesses.

We began to see an increased interest in the box, of all types, as 2023 began, concurrent with the decline in the number of deals in labels and flexible packaging. It appeared, at least to us, that the purchase price multiples in the label and flexible packaging businesses had reached unsustainable levels, coinciding with a dearth of suitable acquisition candidates; many of the best already having been cherry-picked by the surfeit of private equity funds vying to snag the next label or flexible packaging deal. (For more, see: The Target Report: The Box is Back – January 2023.)


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