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Smurfit-Stone Intensifies NA Packaging Focus

CHICAGO, IL, USA—Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation recently reported the company has signed a letter of intent with Jefferson Smurfit Group (formerly Smurfit-Stone's largest shareholder) under which Smurfit-Stone will exchange its European packaging operations and receive JS Group's 50 percent ownership in Smurfit-MBI, a Canadian packaging business, and a payment from JS Group of approximately US$190 million.

Smurfit-Stone currently owns 50 percent of Smurfit-MBI; when the transactions are complete, says the co., Smurfit-Stone will own 100 percent of Smurfit-MBI and will end its manufacturing presence in Europe. As a result, Smurfit-Stone will reclassify the European packaging operations as discontinued and a record loss on disposition of $40 million, or $ 0.16 per share, in 2002. The loss results solely from a provision for taxes on the disposition, adds Smurfit-Stone.

"Closing on the transactions is contingent upon several conditions, including the execution of definitive agreements, obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals in Europe and Canada as well as other closing conditions," states the co.; the transactions are expected to close in the first quarter of 2003. Adds Patrick Moore, Smurfit-Stone president/CEO: "For Smurfit-Stone, these transactions further our stated strategy of focusing on North America. They will concentrate our primary asset base in the US and Canada and enable us to continue to broaden our capability to serve our customers."

Visit Smurfit-Stone at smurfit-stone.com.

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