Anna Magliocco-Chagnon, President and CEO of Bitstream Inc., signed an agreement to acquire substantianlly all assets of the struggling Israeli-based software developer Press-sense Ltd. for $6.5 million in cash and the assumption of liabilities.

A privately held company, founded in 2001 and funded over the years by several venture capital firms, Press-sense, which primarily builds software to intergrate Web-to-print and MIS technologies, has been struggling to stay afloat over the past few months.

Press-sense’s flagship iWay is a significant OEM Web-to-print product for toner-based press manufacturers like Xerox (FreeFlow), Hewlett-Packard (SmartStream) and Océ (PRISMAweb). The company claims to have an install base of over 1,500 customers in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

According to a statement about the pending transaction, there is little overlap between the customer base of Bitstream, through its Pageflex product line, and Press-sense. Pageflex technology primarily deals with automating the creation, production and back-office processes for document orders.

“Our Pageflex product line leads the industry in tackling the frontend of the process – order taking and document production. Press-sense provides the most-extensive business management tools for the backend of the process… Through this asset acquisition, Bitstream becomes the only entity able to offer the full complement of solutions required by document producers,” stated Magliocco-Chagnon, in a press release.

CanWest Global Communications, operating under bankruptcy since October 2009, yesterday agreed to sell its newspapers assets for $1.1-billion to a group of bondholders led by National Post President and CEO, Paul Godfrey.

Godfrey’s bidding group holds 9.25 percent of senior subordinated notes in Canwest Limited Partnership (CLP), a publishing division controlling the newspaper assets, which is described as Canada’s largest newspaper chain (46 dailies and weeklies), including the National Post.

The court-appointed monitor of Canwest, FTI Consulting Canada, in consultation with the RBC Capital Markets, “determined that the bid by members of [Godfrey’s group] constituted a superior cash offer,” according to a company statement, yesterday. The purchase price of approximately $1.1 billion includes $950 million in cash funding. CLP owes senior secured lenders around $925 million.

Canwest is now advancing the bid for court approval on May 17, 2010, while targeting to close the deal on or before July 15, 2010.

Associated articles about the pending purchase:

Jennifer Wells, Toronto Star: CanWest deal all about local papers

Andrew Willis, The Globe: Who played CanWest right?

Jamie Sturgeon, Financial Post: Bondholders to buy Canwest newspaper chain

Susan Krashinsky, The Globe: With a salesman's touch, Paul Godfrey claims CanWest

Theresa Tedesco, Financial Post: New role a ‘great privilege’

Presstek Inc. today reported financial and operating results for the first quarter ended April 3, 2010, which included total revenues of US$34.5 million to match its revenue level in the first quarter of 2009. This also represents a revenue increase of US$1.0 million, or approximately three percent versus the fourth quarter of 2009.

Presstek reported an operating loss of US$271,000 in the first quarter of 2010, which represents a US$1.6 million improvement from a loss of $1.8 million in the 2009 first quarter. In the quarter, the Company had adjusted EBITDA of US$1.8 million, an increase of US$1.4 million when compared to the first quarter of 2009.

"For the second straight quarter we have increased our sequential revenue, grown our adjusted EBITDA and significantly reduced our debt net of cash. Our current debt net of cash of US$5.4 million represents an 85 percent reduction from our high point of $37.0 million three years ago this quarter," said Presstek President and CEO, Jeff Jacobson.

Equipment revenue for Presstek increased 28 percent to US$6.4 million in the first quarter of 2010, compared with US$5.0 million for the same period last year. The company states the increase was driven by increased DI press sales, including its 52DI units now integrated with aqueous coating. 

Consumables revenue totaled US$21.5 million in the first quarter of 2010, compared with US$21.9 million for the same period last year. Service revenue declined approximately 13 percent to US$6.6 million in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the year ago quarter.

“We are pleased with our progress and the momentum that we have generated over the past two quarters,” stated Jacobson. “As we look to the remainder of 2010 we believe that we will see an increase in revenue versus the prior year as we continue to expand our market presence with our new product offerings and expanded distribution footprint. With this increased annual revenue we also expect to see continued positive adjusted EBITDA levels for the remainder of 2010."

Ottawa-based Canadian Bank Note Company took first place in the annual Élan Awards, produced by the International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA), which is a worldwide competition for card manufacturing and printing.

The Élan Awards for Card Manufacturing Excellence are described by the ICMA as "the pinnacle of design innovation and technical achievement" for the sector. The ICMA has 240 global members.

Canadian Bank Note received its first-place finish in the category of Best Government Identification Card for the production of Canada's Permanent Resident Card.

Élan Awards winners included:

People's Choice

CPI Card Group, Lenticular Snowboarder, Visa & Royal Bank of Canada
Finalist: Huangshi G&D Wanda Security Card
Finalist: Plantaplast GmbH

Best Gift Card

Winner: CPI Card Group, Gift a Tron Card, Target
Finalist: Perfect Plastic Printing
Finalist: CPI Card Group

Best Government Identification Card

Canadian Bank Note Company Limited, Permanent Resident Card, Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Finalist: Oberthur Technologies, Registro Nacional de Las Personas de Guatemala Card, The Republic of Guatemala

Best Loyalty & Promotional Card

Plantaplast GmbH, Strawberry Tour 2010 Smelling Card, Extra Golf Promotional Tour
Finalist: Huangshi G&D Wanda Security Card Ltd., China Unicom VIP Card, China Unicom
Finalist: Versatile Card Technology, Ameristar Casino ACE Gold Card, Ameristar Casino

Best Access Control & ID Cards

Vanguard ID Systems, LDM CompuWeigh UHF RFID embedded Biodegradable card, CompuWeigh
Finalist: Plasticard Locktech International, W hotels RFID 3-D Card, W Hotels
Finalist: Plasticard Locktech International, Jelly Belly ID Card, National Confectioners Association

Unique Innovation

Oberthur Technologies, Citi One Piece Mobile Payment Tag Card, Citi
Finalist: CPI Card Group, Nutrisystem Starter Card, Stored Value Systems
Finalist: VCT - NJ, Business Exclusive Rewards Card, Chase

Best Secure Financial Card Design

Future Card, Masraf Al Rayan Visa Gold Card, Masraf Al Rayan
Finalist: VCT-NJ, Cash Charcoal Visa, Chase
Finalist: Huangshi G&D Wanda Security Card Ltd., Yi Card, Agricultural Bank of China

Best Other Secure Card Design

Huangshi G&D Wanda Security Card Ltd., Plum Blossom Card, Nanjing Citizen Card Co. Ltd.
Finalist: Placard Pty. Ltd., Crowne Shareholder Card, Crowne Melbourne LTD
Finalist: VCT-NJ, 76 Commercial Card, Citi Card

Best Vendor New Product, Equipment or Material

JDSU Authentication Solutions Group, Holofuse Card

Finalist: Blumer Maschinenbau, Tool Adapter
Finalist: Bayer MaterialScience AG, Transparent Holographic Film for Colored Holograms in Cards

Judges' Choice

Winner: Versatile Card Technology, Best Buy Blinking Tree Gift Card, Best Buy
Finalist: Oberthur Technologies, Ecount Clear Black Stored Value Card, Citi Prepaid
Finalist: Versatile Card Technology, Best Buy Mother's Day Gift Card, Best Buy

Torstar Corporation ended weeks of speculation by announcing that it has placed a formal bid for the newspaper and digital assets of Canwest Limited Partnership. Financial details of the bid wer not disclosed.

Canwest LP, which includes the National Post, Montreal Gazette and 44 other newspapers, has been up for sale since January. The bidding deadline lapsed last Friday at midnight and it was initially unclear if Torstar submitted a bid due to questions surrounding its financial backer, Fairfax. If Torstar's bid is accepted, it will become the largest newspaper publisher in the country.

Other bidders include Black Press, which is led by President David Black, who controls a chain of 70 newspapers on the West coast, and former Canwest CEO Leonard Asper. In July 2007, Black Press lost a $405-million bid for Osprey Media to Quebecor.

Canwest has also announced the sale of its over-the-air television assets to Shaw Communications of Calgary. The deal is said to be worth over $2 billion and includes paying $700 million to Goldman Sachs for its stake, which it acquired through the purchase of Alliance Atlantis in 2007.

Domtar Corporation announced it has generated net earnings of $58 million in the first quarter of 2010 compared to a net loss of $45 million in the prior year's quarter. The company's sales in the first quarter was $1.5 billion.

"Despite a still modest economic recovery we recorded strong financial results due to price increases and higher pulp, paper and wood shipments," said John D. Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer. Discussing the Company's operations.

"Towards the end of the first quarter, our paper manufacturing system was balanced with our customer demand. We are now operating at full capacity with a lengthening backlog as a result of increased paper demand. We also have built inventories of pulp ahead of the second quarter, as we expect a higher level of maintenance work at our mills and in preparation for the first phase of the recently announced investments at our Kamloops pulp mill that will result in a 41-day shutdown."

The company says it expects the market to remain stable and for pulp prices to increase. However, exchange-rate pressure will continue to be felt, as well as higher maintenance costs is to be expected in the second quarter.

Pal and Robbie Dhanju, brothers and co-owners of Millenium Printing, finalized the purchase of Mississauga-based KingsWeb, which includes the prepress-focused Queenstone Services and bindery/fulfillment-focused TWS operations.

As opposed to an asset purchase, Millenium on April 29 opted to buy the entire 50,000-square-foot plant and all of its operations, because it runs a Mitsubishi-based pressroom like KingsWeb – in terms of sheetfed. The main reason for the purchase, however, was for Millenium to move into web-offset production.

“We were looking for a web [offset] machine for quite some time because there was a big need, especially for us,” says Neeraj Gupta, Millenium’s Marketing Manager. “Whenever we were doing some big runs it really used to hamper our production on the other jobs.”

Back in March 2010, KingsWeb closed its doors after 25 years of operating as a family-run commercial printer. At the time, the company had approximately 70 employees. “We are trying to catch up with some of their existing staff,” says Gupta, “because the company was off for two months and a lot of them have already been placed elsewhere.”

As a trade printer, Millenium is very tight with Toronto’s print-broker community and expects these relationships to drive a lot of work onto its 6-colour Mitsubishi web press, which is uniquely built to handle both heatset and coldset work. Millenium also runs a unique 8-colour, 40-inch sheetfed press, after purchasing a tandem-designed Mitsubishi DIAMOND 3000 about two years ago.

“It has four bottom units and four top units, so the sheet flows straight,” says Gupta, as he explains why Mitsubishi’s tandem press was chosen over a more common perfecting design. “A lot of times people have problems with marking, especially on thicker stocks when the sheet flips. With our press, there is no marking because the sheet is going straight through.”

When Millenium purchased the Mitsubishi DIAMOND 3000, Pal and Robbie Dhanju moved into a new 40,000-square-foot plant in Concord, Ontario, which highlights the company’s steady growth over the past five years. “We were basically doubling our sales with every move,” says Gupta. After founding Millenium a little over 10 years ago, in a 5,000-square-foot Woodbridge plant with a 25-inch Heidelberg, the brothers made a significant move by purchasing their first 40-inch Mitsubishi about five years ago and moving into a 12,000-square-foot, Markham-based plant.

While Millenium will remain headquartered out of the Concord plant, the company basically doubles its size again with the purchase of KingsWeb and, in particular, the full-size Mitsubishi web. “For us, it is really a feather in our cap because [a web press] was the only thing missing from our basket,” says Gupta. “We are still deciding whether to carry on with the KingsWeb name… or if [at the KingsWeb plant] we should use the Millenium name, which is a very strong brand in the trade circle.”

Vistaprint has just announced its fiscal 3rd quarter 2010 results, ended March 31, 2010, which saw the company boost its revenues 30 percent over the same quarter in the previous year.

The quarter saw revenues hit $166 million, which when taking out the factor of currency exchange fluctuations, still reflects a gain of 25 percent. Operating income for the quarter was $17.8 million, an 11 percent increase compared to its 2009 numbers.

"Vistaprint delivered strong third quarter revenue in line with our guidance," said Robert Keane, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our earnings performance exceeded our expectations due to strong gross margins and lower than anticipated expenses during the quarter. We continued to execute toward our accelerated investment plans for the fiscal year, although the timing of some of our investments has shifted into the fourth quarter. We are pleased with our results and believe that we remain well positioned to continue to drive competitive advantage and deliver strong financial results for years to come."

Other figures of note released by the company include the fact, that in the quarter, the company acquired 1.6-million new customers, which represented 33 percent of the company's business that quarter. The company had, on average, 54,000 orders daily in the quarter, a significant boost of 23 percent over the previous year's quarter. During the quarter, the company started offering luggage tags, folded business cards, consumer Websites and recycled paper options for business cards and postcards.

By the end of its fiscal year, the company said it expects to make capital expenditures of between $95 and $100 million, which includes expansion of the company's manufacturing plant in Windsor, Ontario, and a new manufacturing base in Australia, to be operational in the company's first fiscal quarter of 2011.

EFI has announced it will be acquiring Radius Solutions, a management software provider for the printing and packaging industries. The move will give EFI more offerings in its Advanced Professional Print Software division (APPS).

"We are very pleased to add Radius to our growing portfolio of industry-leading software solutions targeted to the print industry," said Marc Olin, Sr. VP/GM APPS of EFI. "EFI's goal is to offer our customers a complete product portfolio that assists them from job creation to production, while allowing them to be more efficient and effective, and ultimately, more profitable. Radius allows us to bring this concept to the packaging market, which is one of the largest segments of the print market and an area of strategic focus for EFI, joining our Pace and Monarch MIS systems which are targeted to the display graphics and commercial print markets."

Radius Solutions is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois with direct operations in the United States and Europe. Radius brings many years of experience developing and deploying applications developed specifically to manage the unique needs of packaging and printing organizations. Radius has established itself as a provider of management information systems specifically designed to help flexible packaging, folding carton and label printers manage their operations.

"We are very excited to have Radius Solutions join the EFI family," said David Taylor, President and CEO of Radius Solutions. "Our ERP packaging software fits strategically within EFI's solutions portfolio. Our clients will gain a supplier with a global footprint and the additional resources of a tier one organization. I look forward to managing the Radius product line within their world class organization."

Details of the transaction were not released and the deal is still subject to various closing conditions.

Pazazz Printing CEO Warren Werbitt published the following open letter regarding the current state of his company. Pazazz filed for restructuring in March.

April 23 is Canada Book Day. The day was chosen to coincide with UNESCO's World Book and Copyright Day, which is now in its 15th year. In Canada, the event, which was first organized by the Writer's Trust of Canada, has not been celebrated since 2008.

Despite the Canadian government pledging an additional $39.5 million for the Canadian book publishing industry last September, no other organization has stepped in to lead the celebrations this year and no promotion has been done at any level of government. The government now gives over $70 million annually to promote Canadian books and publishing.

In the past, book publishers and sellers have issued special Book Week coupons which gives a $2 discount to readers towards any book at bookstores. Canada Book Day became Canada Book Week in 2003.

The TD Canadian Children's Book Week, usually in the autumn of every year, will also not be holding an event this year: a decision to move the event to the spring means the next event will not be until May of 2011. The event was started in 1977 and now over 35,000 across the nation participate each year.

FedEx Office announced plans to install 12,000 new Canon and HP printing devices across more than 1,800 locations in Canada and the United States. Back in September 2009, HP and Canon announced an alliance to jointly market and distribute multifunction office systems.

Beginning next month, FedEx Office (formerly FedEx Kinko’s) will use Canon and HP as sole-source providers. The majority of the imaging equipment will be installed over the next 12 months.

“In Canon and HP, we are choosing two companies that understand our business and whose incomparable reputations, brands and histories of innovation align with our vision to bring customer ideas to life through the world’s best print-on-demand network,” said Brian Philips, President and CEO of FedEx Office, in a press release.

The new devices to be deployed by FedEx, according to the press release, include Canon’s imageRUNNER ADVANCE and imagePRESS systems, while HP is providing online and cloud-printing applications, as well as Designjet large-format printers.

Beginning June 2010, Heidelberg Canada Graphic Equipment will distribute Asahi's photopolymer plates and equipment in Canada.

Focused primarily on the flexography sector, Asahi Photoproducts recently launched what the company describes as a VOC-free, water-washable photopolymer plate, called AWP DEF. The product is said to have a high ink transfer and a wide tonal range.

"Heidelberg Canada is delighted to establish this relationship with Asahi. Our flexo customers have long valued the productivity enhancing features of Asahi photopolymers. Their innovative new products, such as AWP, continue to differentiate Asahi as a superior manufacturer of flexo plates," stated Richard Armstrong, President of Heidelberg Canada, in a press release.

The Asahi Kasei Corporation was founded in Japan in 1931 and is considered one of the leading chemical companies in Asia, with 28,000 employees working in research, production, sales and application technology departments. The European headquarters of the Asahi is located in Brussels.

Both WIFAG and manroland, yesterday, issued short statements about ending acquisition negotiations. Back in February 2010, manroland announced it was pursuing the purchase of WIFAG, a Swiss-based developer of newspaper presses and technology. WIFAG had earlier indicated its need to find a business partner.

The statements from both companies indicate, that during negotiations, it was not possible to satisfy the interests of each company through acquisition. Both companies also indicated they plan to continue cooperating on a technical level.

According to WIFAG’s statement, “Based on the findings of the last three months, WIFAG will now realize a service business model independently.” The statement concluded, “negotiations are being carried out in relation to the sale of individual processing centers in parallel to the restructuring process.”

HP Canada announced that Ernest Green & Son Ltd. (EGS), one of Canada’s largest independent distributors of graphic arts products and services, has joined the HP Commercial Channel Partner program. EGS, with a team of 25 sales and nine technical staff, will sell HP’s large-format Designjet printers and commercial Scitex devices nationally.
For more than 60 years, EGS had been based in Mississauga, Ontario, and now has stocking warehouses in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.
“We’ve seen an increased demand from our customers for high-quality digital printing solutions and we’re excited to provide them with the latest wide-format printing technology from HP,” said Mike Wildbore, National Business Manager for Wide-Format Equipment at EGS. The company plans to schedule HP-based demonstration road shows in the coming months.

“We’re confident that this new relationship with EGS will benefit our customers as they transition from analog to digital printing,” said Danny Ionescu, VP, Graphic Solutions Business, HP Canada. “In addition to allowing us to reach new markets, this collaboration will provide our customers with access to the latest wide-format digital printing technology needed to grow their existing business.”

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