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Packaging firm RPC's first-half earnings slip as costs rise

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(Reuters) – British packaging firm RPC Group Plc <RPC.L>, the target of a takeover battle between two U.S. private equity firms, said on Wednesday earnings in the first half of the year slipped 4.5 percent, hurt by rising costs.

Increased borrowings to fund acquisitions of smaller firms contributed to a 64 percent increase in net financing costs, RPC said.

Europe’s top plastics packager also said it was continuing to sell non-vital businesses, following its $95 million (74.54 million pounds) sale of the Letica packaging division announced in August.

RPC has said pressure from investors was preventing it from pursuing some growth opportunities.

Apollo Global Management <APO.N> and Bain Capital are each looking at a takeover of RPC, which this month said the two U.S. firms should make firm buyout bids by Dec. 3 or walk away.

RPC said pretax profit dropped to 154.4 million pounds in the six months ended Sept. 30, from 161.7 million pounds a year earlier.

Revenue climbed 7 percent to 1.89 billion pounds, benefiting from acquisitions and strong demand in China and the United States.

(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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