Irish paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa has reported a 10% rise in 2011 revenue to €7.36bn from €6.68bn year-on-year, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) growing by 12% to over €1bn.

Smurfit Kappa’s CEO Gary McGann said that the financial performance was strong and demonstrated the benefits of the group’s continued efficiency improvements, which led to growth in its European business.

"The sustained strength of our operating performance together with our enhanced capital structure provides us with an expanded range of strategic and financial options. These include continued debt paydown, increased presence in higher growth markets and a progressive dividend stream", he added.

For the fourth quarter, the company’s revenue increased by 4% from a year earlier to €1.8bn and pre-tax profits increased by more than 50% to €77m.

The company has reported pre-tax profits of €299m for 2011, compared to the previous year’s €103m. Operating profit for the full year stood at €590m against €409m in 2010.

The company’s Latin American business witnessed strong growth in which underlying earnings rose by 19%.

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The firm has materially improved the financial profile and flexibility of the company in the past 18 months, which helped it to reduce net debt by about €540m. Free cash flow generation delivered a net debt reduction of €358m to €2.75bn in 2011.

The group, with operations in Latin America and 21 European countries, operates in the production of containerboard, solidboard, and corrugated packaging.