Financial

The Trustee in General Printers’ bankruptcy action confirms its creditors have accepted the company’s proposal and, following a December 16 auction of equipment, operations have officially ceased at the Oshawa facility.

According to the proposal sent to creditors, four primarily paper suppliers listed as creditors in the bankruptcy action were collectively owed $441,179, while third-party printers were owed just over $30,000, and finishing companies more than $125,000, not including a mailing service provider owed $141,469.

 

Previous article from December 5:


Consolidated Graphics Canada Ltd., which operates as General Printers, plans to close its facility in Oshawa, Ontario, following its proposal to creditors, who are to vote on the action on December 12.

The estimated amount of total debt owed to creditors is $4.6 million, with approximately $2.15 million secured.

 

In late-October, General Printers made a Notice of Intention to Make a Proposal filing under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, which held the potential for the company to restructure. General Printers had a 30-day schedule in November to meet its cash flow obligations.

“Prior to the 30-day initial stay expiring, the company made a proposal to its creditors,” explains the Harris&Partners trustee who is overseeing the filing. “The intention is an organized wind down including an auction of [General Printer’s] assets, completing work in process, collecting receivables and selling real estate. The creditors meeting is set for December 12, 2014, to vote on the Proposal made to creditors.”

David Fors, a principal owner of General Printers, was not avialable this morning for comment. Fors had led the operation as President since 1991. General Printers was established in 1951 and was one of the region’s most-visible printing operations.

The General Printers auction is scheduled to take place on December 16, 2014, at the company’s Ritson Road facility and online, beginning at 10:30 am. Equipment inspection is available the day prior.

Some of the key pieces of equipment up for auction include: an 8-colour, 40-inch Heidelberg Speedmaster 102-8-p+l (2007); 8-colour, 40-inch Heidelberg Speedmaster 102-8-p5 (1998); 2-colour, 40-inch Komori Lithrone (1998); Xerox iGen3; Lawson MPV-60 controlled guillotine; an assortment of Stahl and Heidelberg folding lines; and Muller Martini stitching lines.



Oshawa-based Consolidated Graphics Canada Ltd., which operates as General Printers, made a Notice of Intention to Make a Proposal filing under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

The company now has until early November to meet cash flow obligations, possibly mid-November with an extension, overseen by bankruptcy trustee Harris&Partners.

“Due to a downturn in business, the company was facing a cash crunch and was no longer able to meet its obligations as they became due,” wrote a Harris&Partners trustee overseeing the bankruptcy act filing.

Phone calls and an email to David Fors, a principle of General Printers, have gone unanswered to find out more information about the company’s current situation and future plans after the bankruptcy act filing.

Fors has led General Printers as President since 1991. The company itself was established in 1951. General Printers lost one of longtime leaders in 2011 when Fred Thornley, co-owner and Vice President, passed away at age 63. He had spent 45 years at the company.

General Printers describes itself both as an employee-owned company and as a division of Consolidated Graphics Canada Limited, the name under which the bankruptcy act filing was made.

Harris&Partners reports General Printers intends on putting its hard assets out for public tender or auction to meet some of its obligations, although the exact process has not yet been determined.

HP of Palo Alto, California, today announced plans to separate into two new publicly traded companies: one comprising HP’s enterprise technology infrastructure, software and services businesses, which will do business as Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and one that will comprise HP’s personal systems and printing businesses, which will do business as HP Inc. and retain the current logo.

Immediately following the transaction, scheduled for completion by the end of fiscal 2015, HP shareholders will own shares of both Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. HP expects its separate into two companies to result in eliminating approximately another 5,000 jobs.

Today’s announcement comes as HP approaches the fourth year of its five-year turnaround plan. “Our work during the past three years has significantly strengthened our core businesses to the point where we can more aggressively go after the opportunities created by a rapidly changing market,” stated Meg Whitman, Chairman, President and CEO of HP.

“The decision to separate into two market-leading companies underscores our commitment to the turnaround plan. It will provide each new company with the independence, focus, financial resources, and flexibility they need to adapt quickly to market and customer dynamics, while generating long-term value for shareholders.”

Whitman will continue to hold the titles of President and Chief Executive Officer of HP, and Cathie Lesjak, the company’s current CFO, will hold these positions with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. When the separation is complete, Whitman will also serve on the Board of Directors of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and Pat Russo will move from Lead Independent Director of HP to Chairman of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.

Dion Weisler, Executive VP of HP’s Printing and Personal Systems business, will lead HP Inc. as President and CEO. Whitman will serve as non-executive Chairman of HP Inc.’s Board of Directors.

Resolute Forest Products Inc. of Montreal announced plans to permanently close its Laurentide paper mill in Shawinigan, Quebec, effecting approximately 275 employees.

The Laurentide mill, in operation for over 126 years, has an annual production capacity of 191,000 metric tonnes of commercial printing papers. The permanent closure will take effect on or about October 15, 2014.

“We made every effort to find a way to improve the Laurentide mill’s performance,” stated Richard Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Resolute. “Unfortunately, due to its cost structure and challenging market conditions, there is no economically viable option for the mill.”

Resolute points to a range of reasons for the closure, including the restart of a competitor’s mill at the end of 2012, the high cost of fibre, as well as higher transportation and fuel costs.

An article by Theglobeandmail.com about Laurentide’s closing points to the late-2012 reopening of Pacific West Corp.’s mill in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, with capacity to produce 360,000 tonnes of paper – almost double Laurentide’s capacity. The Globe reports Pacific West paid $33 million for the paper mill and that it reopened with $124.5 million in provincial assistance for the next 10 years.

Resolute Forest Products produces newsprint, specialty papers, market pulp and wood products. The company owns or operates nearly 40 pulp and paper mills and wood products facilities in the United States, Canada and South Korea, and power generation assets in Canada.

Read the full report by The Globe and Mail

Quad/Graphics, based in Sussex Wisconsin, which has been one of the most active printing operations in mergers and acquisitions over the past couple of years, reported results for its second quarter ending June 30, 2014.

These Q2 results include Brown Printing data from the day of acquisition on May 30, 2014. “Our second quarter results were consistent with our expectations and we remain on track to achieve our 2014 objectives,” stated Joel Quadracci, Quad/Graphics Chairman, President & CEO. “We are pleased with our decision to acquire Brown Printing as it supports our ongoing strategy to create value for our clients and shareholders.”

For the second quarter of 2014, Quad/Graphics’ net sales were US$1.1 billion (all dollar figures in U.S.), down one percent compared to the same period in 2013. Second quarter 2014 Adjusted EBITDA was $102 million as compared to $111 million for the same period in 2013, and Adjusted EBITDA Margin was 9.3 percent as compared to 10 percent in 2013.


For the first six months of 2014, Quad/Graphics’ net sales were $2.2 billion, down two percent compared to the same period in 2013. Year-to-date Adjusted EBITDA was $209 million as compared to $225 million for the same period in 2013, and Adjusted EBITDA Margin was 9.5 percent as compared to 10.0 percent in 2013.

“We are increasing guidance for net sales and Adjusted EBITDA to reflect the contribution from the Brown Printing acquisition,” stated Dave Honan, Quad/Graphics Vice President and CFO. “We currently estimate full-year 2014 net sales to be in the range of $4.8 billion to $4.9 billion, increased from a prior guidance range of $4.6 billion to $4.8 billion, and full-year 2014 Adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $535 million to $560 million, increased from a prior guidance range of $520 million to $550 million.

“We reiterate our annual 2014 guidance of Free Cash Flow to be between $155 million and $165 million,” continued Honan, “which reflects the EBITDA contribution from Brown Printing offset by the integration costs that are front-end loaded.”

Tribune Co. yesterday was renamed Tribune Media Company after spinning off its newspaper publishing division, which becomes an independent company with eight dailies, including iconic media brands like The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Tribune Co., based in Chicago, emerged from a four-year bankruptcy-protection process in early 2013. Various reports from media analysts suggest this move by Tribune Co. aims to shield its television business from a decline in print advertising.

Tribune Media Company will continue to operate 42 broadcast stations, WGN America, Tribune Studios and various digital businesses.

A new company called Tribune Publishing stated trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TPUB, which now controls the dailies. It will be lead by publishing veteran Jack Griffin, who served as Meredith’s President of the National Media Group from 2004 to 2010, before taking the lead of Time Inc.

In addition to The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, Tribune Publishing controls major daily newspapers like The Hartford Courant, The Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, The Orlando Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun.

Verso Paper Corp. of Tennessee moved closer to acquiring NewPage Holdings Inc., North America's largest coated paper producer, for around $1.4 billion. A condition of the deal, first announced in January 2014, requires Verso to develop a debt-restructuring plan for NewPage.

The Wisconsin Rapid Tribune reports Verso has been successful in getting 75.6 percent of creditors, who hold $299.5 million in second-lien notes, to reduce the amount the company owes in those notes by about 40 percent, while also getting 71.6 percent of subordinated note holders to agree on an offer. Together, this exceeds the 70 percent participation requirement to complete the deal.

On August 5, NewPage Holdings reported its results for the second quarter of 2014, which included a net loss of $30 million compared to a net loss of $13 million in the second quarter of 2013. The increase in net loss, according to NewPage, was in large part due to higher input costs of $20 million and lower paper prices. NewPage's adjusted EBITDA was $43 million in the second quarter of 2014 compared to $50 million in second quarter of 2013.

NewPage ended the second quarter with total liquidity of $271 million, consisting of $263 million of availability under the revolving credit facility and $8 million of available cash and cash equivalents.

Read the full Wisconsin Rapid Tribute article, Verso one step closer to acquiring NewPage.

Avanti Computer Systems of Toronto reported a record-setting second quarter to its financial year with revenue up 13.1 percent in comparison to the corresponding period of last year.

The software developer, which is preparing to celebrate its 30th anniversary in September 2014, points to last year’s launch of the new Slingshot Management Information System as the primary reason for its revenue growth. (Read PrintAction's August 2013 cover story about the launch of Slingshot, called The Slingshot Effect.)

Released in the fourth quarter of 2013, Avanti Slingshot is developed for commercial print providers, enterprise/in-plants and franchise operations. “I was impressed with the migration tools that Avanti has developed to streamline the transition from Avanti Classic to Avanti Slingshot,” stated Warren Werbitt, Founder and CEO of Pazazz, which has been a longtime Avanti MIS customer. “The intuitive GUI made it easy for my folks to be productive very quickly.”



Avanti describes Slingshot as incorporating business intelligence (CRM, dashboards and reporting), production planning (estimating, imposition, automated purchasing, sales orders, inventory management and scheduling), warehousing, shipping and billing. The Toronto company reports Slingshot has also led to a number of new clients including: The Watkins Printing Company; Colortree Group, Inc.; American Marketing & Mailing Services Inc. (AMMS); and Arizona State University (ASU).



“We are very encouraged by the extremely positive response that we are getting from the market for Avanti Slingshot,” declared Patrick Bolan, President and CEO of Avanti. “We continue to help printers move beyond print and have developed a platform that can support their multiple lines of business including conventional and digital print, large format, mailing, data management, marketing services and fulfillment.”



Claus Bolza-Schünemann, CEO of Koenig & Bauer AG, reported on the Fit@All program to restructure the German press maker, which is to be presented in one year’s time at the next Annual General Meeting of shareholders.

A day before the AGM, Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA) also announced Mathias Dähn as its next CFO, succeeding Axel Kaufmann who is leaving the company. Born in Munich, Dähn (46) holds a doctorate in business administration and has extensive experience in controlling, purchasing, M&A, and optimizing commercial processes. He began working with MAN Group in 2005 as director of the group controlling the sale of Manroland. From 2011 to 2013, Dähn was CFO at the Austrian lighting manufacturer Zumtobel.

The Fit@All program for KBA’s restructuring was put into place at the start of KBA’s 2013 fiscal year. Yesterday, Bolza-Schünemann updated shareholders on its measures, goals and current status. He reported that between 1,100 and 1,500 jobs from the company’s current figure of approximately 6,200 are to be cut as part of Fit@All’s measures. KBA plans to finish its workforce reduction schedule by 2015, stating operational layoffs are unavoidable.

Currently, voluntary cancellation and phased retirement agreements, as well as social wage agreements and social compensation plans, were agreed upon with union and workforce representatives for around 700 employees at the company’s sites in Mödling, Ternitz, Trennfeld and Würzburg. An agreement and arrangement is also in place for the plant in Radebeul, Germany, which will see a reduction of 180 jobs. Negotiations regarding the necessary cut in payroll by 200 employees at Frankenthal/Pfalz due to capacity and earnings remain ongoing.

“We aim to achieve an overall cost base at which group sales of €1 billion will lead to appropriate earnings,” stated Bolza-Schünemann. “We do not want to go overboard with cost savings or shrink beyond recognition, which is why the expansion of potential growth areas is a further pillar of our realignment.”  

In terms of potential expansion, Bolza-Schünemann referred to KBA’s interests in special applications like banknote and “digital printing”, metal decorating and coding, as well as its new subsidiaries KBA-Flexotecnica and KBA-Kammann. These two acquisitions from last year are involved in flexible packaging and the direct decoration of hollow containers, respectively, which Bolza-Schünemann points out as being growth markets not previously served by KBA.

KBA, as a part of Fit@All, also plans to produce a “new site concept” and to outsource more activities that lie outside of the group’s press-related core competences, which the company describes as sheetfed offset, web offset and special presses. KBA is preparing a new group and management structure with the goal of becoming what the company describes as a decentralized and flexible press-manufacturing group. Again, the company's full restructuring plan is scheduled to be introduced at its next AGM in 2015.

When discussing KBA’s 2013 fiscal year, Bolza-Schünemann stated the demand for web presses for newspapers and commercial printing, as well as sheetfed offset, remained considerably below expectations. KBA’s traditional offset business saw a decrease in order intake of 9.3 percent to over €1 bn. Group sales stood at around €1.1 billion, approximately €200m below targets.

KBA posted an operating profit of €24.5 million and pointed to required 2013 special payments of –€155.2m for provisions as part of the Fit@All program. KBA group generated a pre-tax loss of -€138.1 million.  

“Strengthening KBA’s lasting profitability and competitiveness are the focus and goals of Fit@All,” stated Bolza-Schünemann. “It is clear that we must sustainably restructure our core business with web and sheetfed offset presses as well as realign capacities to new market conditions. The expansion of new growth areas is also a key aspect of our program.

“We are convinced that we will be able to harvest the fruits of our realignment in 2015 and that the group will return to sustainable profitability by 2016 at the latest.”

Eastman Kodak reported its fourth-quarter results for 2013, and its full year, which represent the company’s first set of results since exiting Chapter 11 protection in September 2013. The Rochester-based company showed improved margins and reduced losses, but experienced slightly lower sales than expected for the full year.

Kodak’s full-year operational EBITDA of $160 million in 2013 (all financial figures are in U.S. dollars) was an improvement by $375 million, excluding what the company defines as fresh start and other accounting adjustments.

Total net earnings for the full year were $1.99 billion, including a reorganization items net gain of $2.01 billion, as well as a gain of $535 million related to the sale of the digital imaging patent portfolio, partially offset by a $77 million non-cash goodwill impairment charge. In 2012, there was a net loss of $1.38 billion. Kodak’s fourth quarter net loss was reduced from $402 million in 2012 to $63 million in 2013.

Sales for 2013 declined from the prior year by 14 percent to $2.35 billion. The company had projected 2013 revenue to come in at approximately $2.5 billion. Kodak states its lower than expected sales volume is the result of prioritizing profitable opportunities over sales volume. The company also noted that its sales of motion picture film and consumer inkjet printer ink continued to decline.

Full year 2013 gross profit margin improved year-over-year by ten percentage points, reflecting primarily increased contribution from non-recurring intellectual property arrangements, product mix improvements, and cost reductions.

“I am excited about the strong increases we are seeing in revenues from our emerging technology businesses that will create the foundation for Kodak’s future growth,” stated Jeff Clarke, who was introduced as Kodak’s new CEO on March 18, one day before the financial results were released.

Kodak reports its liquidity remains strong, as the year ended with $844 million cash on hand and debt of $678 million. Kodak currently estimates revenue in 2014 will total approximately $2.1 to $2.3 billion. The company anticipates year-over-year sales growth in its digital printing, packaging and functional printing businesses, as well as stability in its enterprise services and graphics communications businesses, and revenue declines for motion picture film and consumer inkjet printer ink sales.

Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA) of Germany reported its financial results for the full year of 2013, which the company characterized an indication of subdued demand for offset and security presses, particularly when pitted against the previous year’s quadrennial drupa tradeshow.

KBA in 2013 saw group sales fall by 15 percent to approximately €1.11 billion ($1.71 billion in Canadian dollars), while order intake for the full year came in at €1.012 billion, which was 9.3 percent lower than the previous drupa year.

The German press maker stated that its positive earnings in the operating business were strained by one-off impairments and high provisions for special expenses. This is largely the result of new measures enacted for the realignment of the KBA Group, publically announced in mid-December 2013.

“The financial repercussions of this project will also be noticeable for KBA in 2014,” stated Claus Bolza-Schünemann, KBA CEO and President, in a letter to shareholders. “However, in 2015 we anticipate a notable turnaround in earnings and a return to sustained profitability by 2016 at the latest.”

Sales in KBA’s sheetfed offset division dropped by 11.1 percent to €571.9 million, while revenue in the company’s web and special press segment was down by 18.9 percent to €527.8 million. Order intake in the sheetfed segment of €608 million was 8.9 percent below 2012 and compared to the previous year new orders of web and special presses declined by 9.9 percent to €404.2 million.

Within a statement describing its 2013 results, KBA points to recent statistics issued by the VDMA (German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers’ Association) that show orders and sales of printing equipment produced in Germany fell by up to 10 percent for the year. The report describes primary reasons for this reduction as being the economic impacts of the sovereign debt crisis in parts of Europe, slower economic growth in the BRIC countries, negative currency effects in emerging markets, changes in media consumption and ongoing consolidation in the printing industry in industrialized countries.

Datamark Systems headquartered in Laval, Quebec, is shutting its doors leaving some 400 people out of work across all of its facilities, including around 300 people in the Montreal area who are primary employed at the company’s main plant in LaSalle.


Management informed its LaSalle employees of the decision on Friday, February 28, announcing layoffs would begin immediately and likely last for the next few weeks, until facilities were closed. In a letter to employees obtained by Le LaSalle Messenger newspaper, Datamark states, "A combination of erosion markets and reduced margins due to the price of the commodity for many of our products and service suggests that there is no more Datamark reason to continue the operations of the company.”



In April 2013, Datamark Systems announced the shutdown of its Boucherville commercial printing division (IntraMédia), which was relocated to the Lasalle facility. At that time of the relocation, Datamark CEO Jeffrey Zunenshine stated, “The printing industry continues to undergo significant pressure the move optimizes Datamark’s ability to remain highly competitive and flexible through merging of operational strengths. By rightsizing our facilities and capacity to meet the current and future needs we will be in a much stronger position to adjust to market realities.”


Founded just over 35 years ago, Datamark Systems had morphed into a document and business communications business with a presence across North America, primarily focused on financial services, retail and insurance markets. Its services included the content management, design, production and multi-channel distribution of internal and external business documents, such as e-form, Websites, stationary, commercial printing, multi-part forms, labels and specialty products.

Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG reports it remains on track to record profitability for its current year, with this week’s reporting of its financial position for the first nine month (April 1 to December 31, 2013).



"After nine months, Heidelberg has made significant progress regarding profitability," stated Gerold Linzbach, CEO of Heidelberg. "As we expect our sales to pick up and the result to increase in the final quarter, we remain confident that we will meet our target of achieving a net profit."

Group sales after nine months for the period under review stood at €1.685 billion, which is down from the €1.905 billion mark recorded in the previous year’s corresponding period. Heidelberg states negative exchange rate movements accounted for around a third of this year over year decline, which the company explains to have also restrained investment activity in new machinery sales.


After the first nine months of financial year 2013/2014, Heidelberg’s EBITDA (excluding special items) increased from €4 million in the previous year to €67 million. The result of operating activities (EBIT), excluding special items, after nine months increased from €-58 million to €10 million, which marks the first time this financial year that Heidelberg has achieved a positive cumulative EBIT result.

For the first nine months, Heidelberg’s financial result after three quarters was €-41 million compared to €-36 million in the previous year’s corresponding period. After the first nine months of the current financial year, the pre-tax result improved from €-118 million in the previous year to €-32 million.

Net financial debt fell year-on-year to €271 million compared to €325 million in the previous year’s corresponding period. Free cash flow after nine months including restructuring expenses was recorded as €-10 million.


Manroland Sheetfed GmbH, the German press builder purchased two years ago by British industrialist Tony Langley, recorded a profit for its 2013 year, ended December 31.

The positive Manroland Sheetfed numbers were presented in the Langley Holdings plc Annual Report & Accounts for 2013, released late last week. Manroland Sheetfed was integrated during the year to become Langley Holdings’ largest division in terms of revenue and employees.

In the Langley report, Manroland Sheetfed is said to have traded in line with expectations to make a small profit on revenues of €314 million, although with internal charges the press builder contributed some €10 million to the group's €91.4 million profit before tax.

Based in Offenbach, Germany, Manroland Sheetfed delivered just over 100 new presses or 528 printing units during the year to December. “We are delighted with this result which was slightly higher than budgeted,” stated Dr. Peter Conrady, Head of Sales for Manroland Sheetfed. “We have a turnover in excess of our €300 million target with a positive operating profit and this is very good news.”

Langley Holdings plc, a diverse engineering group, reported revenues of €833.9 million for 2013, generating its pre-tax profit of €91.4 million. Group chairman Tony Langley stated that his company’s divisions had performed in line with or ahead of expectations and that 2013 had been another "remarkably successful year.”

Piller, which produces electrical systems for data centres, was the principal driver of Langley Holdings’ 2013 result. ARO, which manufactures welding machinery for the automobile sector, also had what the company describes as another near record year. Claudius Peters, a plant machinery constructor, performed in line with expectations on slightly reduced turnover, while Bradman Lake, a packaging machinery specialist, also performed in line.

Langley Holdings reported net assets of €496.5 million at year end with zero debt and net cash of €278.6 million, after payment of a €25.0 million shareholder dividend during the period.

MPH Graphics of Markham is working through Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to restructure the company, which President Stephen Pugh indicates will ultimately end with a sale through a stalking horse offer bid process.



As part of the court-led process, a notice about MPH Graphics’ restructuring and subsequent asset sale was placed in the national edition of today’s Report on Business section of The Globe and Mail newspaper. On January 6, an Ontario court appointed Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. to look after the stalking horse sales process of MPH Graphics’ assets.

“We are restructuring… it is a process whereby the business is going to be sold and we have an offer and there will be a sale,” says Pugh, “but the system has to allow for giving others an opportunity.”


MPH Graphics, founded in 1988, operates in a niche marke and is a unionized facility.

“There are things that we can bring to an organization in terms of our digital and wide format… our client base has value," says Pugh. "One niche would be the environmental sector and people may want to take advantage of our leadership in terms of our sustainable approach to print.”

The stalking horse process could take a few weeks, likely lasting into February, before MPH”s future is secured. For now, however, it is business as usual for Pugh and around 20 employees with the Markham company.



“We are here until this process is done. There is no trustee in here. I am running the business and we have the support of our banks,” says Pugh, noting the restructuring of the company was not initiated by the bank. “At the end of the day, this is about the sale process and maintaining the relationships with clients that I have developed over the years and maintaining jobs.”

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