Archive for February 9th, 2010

by JC

I guess, what, the payroll for a year or two of Smurfit-Stone terminated employees is about equivalent to a $68 million dollar yacht? Maybe Sir Michael Smurfit, the “Monaco-based tax exile” can treat all of them to a good time severance leisure cruise for their sacrifice, or a game of golf at the “K-Club”.

RECESSION? What recession? Michael Smurfit, the Irish packaging tycoon, has bought a €50m (68.65 million US dollars) super-yacht, provisionally called Lady Ann Magee II. The former chairman of Smurfit Kappa, the paper and cardboard giant, expects to take delivery of the vessel, being built by Italy’s Codecasa, by next summer. The 213ft vessel will have five decks with a spa, pool, cinema, beauty salon, gym, massage room and sun deck.

Smurfit, whose family wealth was estimated at £398m in last year’s Sunday Times Rich List [#203 on Britain’s most rich list], is buying the boat despite a slump across the packaging industry. The Irish group’s former American arm, Smurfit-Stone, filed for bankrupcty protection in January, and International Paper, the world’s largest paper group, slashed its dividend by 90% this month to save cash [and pay for a yacht?].

I guess when you think Montana is a third world country, Michael Smurfit doesn’t really have to care what the local dispossessed think about his new new yacht. But then again, maybe the rest of us will pay attention the next time some international playboy starts buying up local industries so he can move up in the yacht owner’s “keeping up with the Jones'” club.

And how about  today’s Missoulian story about Smurfit handing out over $50 million in bonuses to execs while the company is still stiffing Missoula County for $1.8 million in back taxes? I guess his tax-free zone in Monaco is far enough away that when the flak hits the fan, all Sir Michael will be feeling is the wind on his face, sitting in the shade of his private palm grove, with his yacht(s) docked up awaiting a quick get away if need be.

How about Smurfit’s $654 million dollars in tax credits the company has/will receive for the last two years, and which some local folks hoped would save the Missoula mill?

Of course, guilt kicked in, and in an article laying out Smurfit’s cushy relationship with “Dollar Bill” Clinton, after not being able to sell the Lady Magee I, and taking possession of the Lady Magee II, he decides to sell one:

While he is seeking to resolve his business arrangement with Gannon, Smurfit has been cutting back on personal expenditure, selling Lady Ann Magee II, a €47m, 213-ft yacht built for him by an Italian shipyard. The businessman had intended to keep the yacht and sell the original Lady Ann Magee, a smaller vessel, for about €16.5m, but eventually decided to stick with his relatively more modest vessel.

Here’s the lowdown on purchasing the Lady Ann Maggee I, if you’re interested. It has some nice pictures of all the amenities that come with a life of luxury. Also at risk: Smurfit’s “K Club,” his exclusive golf & spa resort in Kildare, Ireland.

Poor Mr. Smurfit. Bought his new luxury cruise liner before he sold his old one, and now has two. Now he can’t keep the new one because the old one didn’t sell, and only gets to keep the old one (pictured below). His golf resort is losing money, too. Such be the life of those born with silver spoons in their mouths. But I guess when you live in tax exile in Monaco, it doesn’t really matter, now does it?

I say good riddance to those who would treat Montana as just another banana republic.
lady magee

(updated 2:36pm)

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