Stakeholders give insight into how good relations and trust are vital when it comes to corporate partnerships
When Platinum Equity and Ball Corporation sold Ball Metalpack to Sonoco for approximately $1.35 billion, it marked a successful exit for a Platinum-sponsored partnership with a corporate seller.
The sale came after a comprehensive three-year transformation program where Ball Metalpack, the sustainable steel container manufacturer based in Colorado, was established as a standalone enterprise through a broad range of operational improvements throughout the business. The containers are used for aerosol products, food, household consumables, pet food, nutritional and other products in North America.
Priorities for the transformation program included footprint optimization, new product development, expansion of the company’s capabilities, and investments in growth and operational excellence. Ball Metalpack invested approximately $100 million in state-of-the-art manufacturing infrastructure since 2018 when the partnership was formed. Platinum Equity owned 51 percent; Ball Corporation 49 percent.
Platinum Equity Partner Louis Samson noted that Platinum Equity has experience creating similar transaction structures with large corporations when they are seeking to divest assets. Ball joins Caterpillar (Neovia Logistics), Emerson (Artesyn Technologies and Vertiv), and Telstra (Sensis) as companies that have participated in equity upside along with Platinum Equity.
“We find that corporate sellers can benefit from a structure that allows for a partial sale at the outset of their divestment process, with the opportunity to deliver incremental value by participating in the upside we can create together,” Samson said. “This investment is another successful story of aligning our interests with those of one of the world’s leading corporations and delivering value for both of us.”
Ball Corporation Chairman and former CEO John A. Hayes, Samson and other Platinum executives were asked to give their insights into the Ball Metalpack exit.
(Answers have been edited for clarity and length).
Hayes on Platinum’s operational capabilities: “Over the years, it has become clear to us at Ball that Platinum is a differentiated private equity firm with a tremendous operational capability and high standards of integrity. Platinum is a trusted partner – the firm’s carveout expertise, operational capabilities and relentless approach to execution proved to be a powerful combination, and the impact we have been able to achieve together speaks for itself.”
Samson on the cooperation with Ball Corporation: “Three years ago, John Hayes came to us with a clear-eyed vision for what Ball Metalpack could accomplish by creating a structure that would bring us together as partners and deploy the full Platinum toolkit to create value,” Samson said. “We quickly mapped out a plan, negotiated a deal that aligned our interests, and then our teams went to work. I’m proud that by joining forces we were able to deliver on behalf of the company and its shareholders.”
Platinum Principal Koustubh Patwardhan on Platinum’s packaging expertise and building trust early: “We’ve spent a lot of time in the packaging space. By the time we came to look at the Metalpack deal, we were very quick, we knew the key deal points or what the hot buttons would be. We were able to get to a deal in pretty short order because we had that base knowledge.”
Platinum Managing Director Delara Zarrabi on working with Ball: “It was just two teams always working together. I think because John and Louis had built that relationship really early and trusted each other, any bump along the way was just putting our heads together and getting through the issue. It was always, how can we fix it?”
Zarrabi on how operational focus overcame challenges: “We delivered to our customers when some of our competitors couldn’t. We were really malleable and creative in procuring steel when the market was challenging. Our investment in people and infrastructure allowed us to deliver to our customers in a time of really tight supply and really strong demand. All those investments we made in people, process and operations, throughout that journey, were the reasons why we could really deliver.