Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. this week filed its plans for reorganization, which would see the company emerge from Chapter 11 in the spring of 2010. The company announced it would be seeking bankruptcy protection last January in both U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions.
Patrick J. Moore, Chairman and CEO, said, "The filing of our Plan of Reorganization and Disclosure Statement is an important step toward Smurfit-Stone's successful emergence from the reorganization process. Our employees, customers, suppliers and other supporters have been instrumental in our ability to reach this important milestone. We will remain focused on tackling the many challenges that remain ahead."
The company stated it has prepaid all of the $43 million in loans outstanding in the U.S. and expects to prepay the approximately $7 million remaining of the Canadian term loan by the end of December. Smurfit-Stone will also merge all the Canadian assets under one entity, which will be held as a subsidiary.
Smurfit-Stone's total assets had a net book value of about $5.28 billion and total debt of about $6.6 billion as of September 30, 2009.
German press maker Koenig & Bauer continues to make inroads into the Chinese offset-press market, including its most recent deal to install a 3-tower KBA Comet with the Beijing Daily Group by summer 2010.
As North American and European markets for press sales all but evaporated for manufacturers in 2009, KBA made a clear effort to push into the Chinese market by having a 900-square-metre booth at China Print and the recent completion of an 11-day seminar tour across the country. These initiatives helped KBA to keep its 2009 export level stable at 83.4 percent, relative to 84.2 percent the year prior.
The German company’s press exports into Asia and the Pacific Region increased from 19.1 to 23.5 percent, while exports into North America and Europe decreased to 7.9 and 34.8 percent, respectively. (In 2008, 52.2 percent of all KBA exports went into Europe.) While at China Print in May 2009, which had over 70,000 tradeshow visitors, KBA states that it signed around 20 orders, mostly for its flagship Rapida 105 press. Shortly after the show, Shanghai Dadong Printing signed a contract to bring the first Rapida 75 – launched at drupa 2008 – into China. KBA states there are now a dozen 29-inch Rapida 75 press lines in operation or soon to be installed in various Chinese cities.
Much of KBA’s success in the market can also be attributed to its annual traveling seminar series, with the 2009 version wrapping up this October – in Harbin, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Wuxi, Dongguan and Taibei. A company statement about Chinese progress explains, “The economic and financial crisis notwithstanding, 2009 has been KBA’s most successful year to date in the Chinese market… [it] became clear that sales this year would break all records, with almost one-third of KBA’s sheetfed output destined for China.”
For a number of years, Goss International (now buoyed by the July 2009 share-based investment from Shanghai Electric) has led the way into China in terms of web-offset presses. Just last week, KBA announced a major web deal with Beijing Daily Group, which is purchasing a KBA Comet – with three reel stands, three towers and one folder – to focus on producing a free Beijing subway newspaper, launched in 2008. Three more printing towers are to be installed after the press is up and running, which is scheduled for summer 2010. Earlier in 2009, KBA signed a deal with China’s Dazhong Daily Newspaper Group for a 2-section Commander press line to print the Dazhong Daily – with a weekday circulation of 400,000 copies.
KBA is also building a press presence in many other emerging print regions, as detailed below with notable 2009 deals, beyond China:
Russian printer buys KBA Performa 66 (March 2010 start up);
First KBA Colora enters Ecuador with El Telégrafo in Guayaquil;
Abu Dhabi-based United Printing starts up a multi-unit KBA Continent press;
KBA’s first sheetfed press enters Uruguay (Rapida 105);
A Saudi Arabian printer signs deal to install world’s largest sheetfed offset press (Rapida 185);
Tellurian Publication House of Dubai buys Rapida 75;
Delta Printing Press in Dubai buys three Rapida 105s;
After the recent startup of a 6-colour Rapida 105, Aria Printing of Iran installs 8-colour Rapida 106;
Color Lines of Dubai buys multiple Rapida presses;
Brazil-based Editora Abril starts up its 48-pp KBA Compacta 618;
Litografica Gonzales of the Canary Islands buys KBA Compacta 215.
Unisource Worldwide today announced it has completed the acquisition of Euro-Papier, one of Europe’s largest paper suppliers with an emphasis on the eastern portion of the continent. Based in Belgium, Euro-Papier, which will be renamed Graph Comm International, has 12 country offices – Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Graphic Communications, Unisource's print and paper brokerage, is said to sell more than 1-million tonnes per year of coated and uncoated paper. Euro-Papier claimed to annually deliver over 470,000 tonnes of paper from its 38 warehouses and selection of more than 5,000 products. The company has around 800 employees.
"This acquisition significantly strengthens our market position throughout Europe," Al Dragone, Unisource CEO, stated in a press release. "We will continue to pursue strategic acquisitions that expand our operations both within and outside North America.”
Altec Integrated Solutions Ltd. of British Columbia has completed the certification process to become a member of Bosch Rexroth Canada’s Electric Drive and Controls Systemintegrator program.
Bosch Rexroth is a division of the larger Bosch Group, which has 35,300 employees and generated around €5.9 billion in sales last year. The company develops pneumatics modules and motion-control systems to automate manufacturing equipment, including rotary, sheefed, flexography, gravure or large-format presses. Bosch Rexroth is also positioned to address automate issues on punching, folding, cutting, perforating or laminating equipment.
Altec, meanwhile, began operations in 1999 within the Greater Vancouver Area, specifically in Port Coquitlam. The company began in machine automation and industrial design for the forest products industry, entertainment, food and beverage and municipal services industries; and is now expanding with the ability to develop customized Bosch Rexroth automation modules.
As well, partners in Bosch Rexroth Systemintegrator program, such as Altec, can offers manufacturing-focused services like project planning, programming, system startup, electrical and mechanical installation and maintenance.
Winnipeg-based Canadian Printing Equipment Ltd. becomes the exclusive dealer for C.P. Bourg technologies in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as authorization to sell the finishing equipment in British Colombia.
Canadian Printing Equipment (CPE) has extensive experience in selling short-run finishing equipment through its history with Standard Horizon. CPE is now transitioning away from Horizon to focus on C.P. Bourg technology. This line-up will include C.P. Bourg’s new BSF sheet feeder, which can feed toner-based presses with up to 15,000 letter-size sheets per hour. The system can also work with a maximum sheet size of 14.33 x 22.5 inches. CPE will also carry C.P. Bourg's line of perfect binders, collators and 3-knive trimmers.
To support the C.P Bourg line, which is distributed in other Canadian regions by Robert E. Thistle, CPE has four service technicians located across the west. Claiming that its employees have a combined industry experience of more than 90 years, CPE buys and sells various pieces of prepress, press and bindery equipment, including UV coaters.
The company also provides warrantee-level service and has developed an extensive remarketing service for equipment, which it brokers to dealers around the world.
Fred Simper passed away on November 20 at the age of 87, after decades of bringing cutting-edge prepress technologies into the Canadian printing market through his 18 years of service with VariTyper Corp. and ultimately his own company.
By the time desktop publishing began to impact the marketplace in the late-1980s, Simper had become one of the most-knowledgeable prepress experts in the Canadian marketplace, often traveling to Hanover, New Jersey, to consult with VariTyper. His last job title at VariTyper was Phototypesetting and Software Systems Coordinator.
Simper tested his entrepreneurial spirit in 1979 and, in May 1982, incorporated a firm called International Phototypesetter Exchange, which eventually evolved into Fred Simper Graphic Arts Equipment (FSGA). Based in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, the company initially focused on the rebuilding and marketing of phototypesetting machines.
By 1986, FSGA moved into Cathode Ray Tube-based phototypesetters and then, in 1992, Simper started to broker imagesetters and drum recorders. By 1994, FSGA specialized in the rebuilding of Linotronic and Agfa imagesetters, which remained a focus into the 2000s – in addition to Raster Image Processors.
Simper was also a regular feature writer for PrintAction magazine. He began writing for industry magazines in 1977, focusing on typesetting and electronic publishing topics. Some of his article titles included: The History of RIPs; Which do you need: An Imagesetter or a Large Format Laser Printer?; Advantages of a Drum Recorder, When Compared with a Capstan Imagesetter; How to Buy a Used Imagesetter; Comparison of Drum Recorders and Light Sources; and Everything’s Going Digital.
Dr. Jürgen Rautert is leaving Heidelberg and its 4-person Management Board, as the press manufacturer prepares to split – beginning April 1, 2010 – into three new divisions: Heidelberg Equipment, Services and Financial Services.
Rautert joined Heidelberg in 1990 shortly after finishing a doctorate in mechanical engineering. He ultimately became responsible for overseeing sales within the company’s Management Board, a responsibility that now falls on the shoulders of CEO Bernhard Schreier. Rautert was appointed to Heidelberg’s Management Board in 2004 and was initially responsible for products, engineering and manufacturing before taking over sales in July 2008.
Under the new structure, Marcel Kiessling (on January 1, 2010) will be responsible for the new Heidelberg Services division, while existing board member Stephan Plenz takes charge of Heidelberg Equipment and CFO Dirk Kaliebe looks after Heidelberg Financial Services. (Schreier, again, is to look after the international sales network.)
Kiessling (48) has been with Heidelberg for 20 years, as he ascended to lead sales in Germany and then, in 2004, took over the North and South American sales regions as President of Heidelberg Americas Inc, which oversees the company’s Canadian operations. In 2001, Kiessling was appointed Chairman of the Management Board at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen Vertrieb Deutschland GmbH.
Heidelberg states its new corporate structure allows the company to “significantly expand” the new Heidelberg Services division. "We will expand our service portfolio and, in addition to our current range of services and Heidelberg spare parts, we will also strengthen our services in the areas of Saphira consumables, Prinect software and integration, and consultancy for print media companies," said Schreier.
Graphic Systems Services (GSS), a privately held corporation located in Springboro, Ohio, has acquired the assets and intellectual property of the Didde Web Press business from Stolle Machinery Company LLC.
Founded in 1995, GSS provides parts and service support for the Harris/Schriber product line of which there are over 6,000 presses and roll collators installed around the world. The company will now provide similar support for owners of Didde presses, which have been in the market for well over 50 years.
Stolle Machinery produced over 7,500 Didde machines for business-form, direct-mail, label, and commercial printing companies. All the assets of the Didde entity will be relocated to GSS headquarters, which is a 100,000-square-foot facility with machining, assembly, engineering and service.
HP reports that its profit increased 14 percent in its latest quarter, primarily because of cost-cutting measures and strong results in its Services division. HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG), however, saw a 15 percent drop in sales over the quarter, relative to last year. Sales of its commercial printing equipment in the fourth quarter fell 38 percent, according to HP’s financial report, as sales of consumer printing units dropped by 14 percent.
Overall revenue generated by the company in Q4 declined by eight percent. More specifically, fourth-quarter revenue declined by three percent in the Americas to US$13.6 billion, while revenue declined 17 percent in Europe.
"HP’s solid performance in Services drove record profit and the accelerated pace in signings creates strong momentum going into 2010,” said CEO Mark Hurd. Services revenue increased by eight percent in HP’s latest quarter to US$8.9 billion.
Net revenues for HP's 2009 fiscal year came in at US$114.6 billion, which is a three percent drop when compared with 2008 results.
Avery Venis, Chairman of Graphic Printing Roller Ltd., passed away suddenly last week, after a long and distinguished career in Canada’s printing industry. Markham-based Graphic Printing Roller has been in operation for over 50 years.
Venis was very active in supporting the Mackenzie Printery Museum, based in the Niagara Falls region. He helped to museum source rollers for its historical presses, including one system that was last used in daily operation over 100 years ago – Whitlock Newspaper Press (1894), Baltimorean no 3 (1880), Kelsey (1930), Golding Official (1885), and the Golding Pearl 3 (1890) press.
Specializing in the manufacture of printing rollers, supplies and service to companies around the globe, Graphic Printing Roller also has a sales office in St. Leonard, Quebec.
Presstek announced today it has entered into a
definitive agreement to sell its wholly owned subsidiary, Lasertel,
Inc. to SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems (US), Inc.
"This sale to SELEX S&AS will place
Lasertel into a large organization whose core business is closely
aligned with Lasertel's mission," said Presstek Chairman, President and
Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Jacobson. "At the same time, it allows
Presstek to focus on its core business and further reduce its debt.
While selling Lasertel has been a key objective during the past year,
we needed to ensure that we received an appropriate value for Lasertel.
We are pleased that we are able to accomplish that with this sale."
The sale price will be approximately
US$10 million, comprised of US$8 million in cash upon sale of the
business and approximately US$2 million of laser diodes for Presstek's
future product requirements. The transaction is expected to close
during the first quarter of 2010 and is subject to approval from
certain governmental agencies in the United States and Europe. Presstek
plans to use proceeds from the sale to reduce debt.
Lasertel develops and manufactures high-powered laser diodes for a variety of industries, including graphic arts. Presstek uses these laser diodes in its Presstek DI digital offset presses and the Dimension Excel Series of computer-to-plate systems. A supply agreement will also be entered into that will provide the currently utilized laser diode product to Presstek at existing prices for a two year period.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) yesterday released its 2009 year-end financial results, showing a net loss of US$3.8 billion for the year. In 2008, the USPS had a net loss of US$2.8 billion.
The 2009 loss comes despite drastic cost-cutting efforts, which the USPS claims to have resulted in US$6 billion in cost savings and a US$4 billion reduction in required payments for retiree health benefits. These reductions are largely the result of 40,000 “career USPS employees” being laid off.
"Our 2009 fiscal year proved to be one of the most challenging in the history of the Postal Service," said CFO Joseph Corbett. "The deep economic recession, and to a lesser extent the ongoing migration of mail to electronic alternatives, significantly affected all mail products.
"We undertook comprehensive cost-cutting measures across all areas of the organization," Corbett said. "Most notably, we reduced work hours by 115 million, or the equivalent of 65,000 full-time employees – a larger number than the entire workforce at more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies today."
Operating revenue for the USPS in 2009 amounted to US$68.1 billion, compared to US$74.9 billion in 2008. Total mail volume in 2009 reached 177.1 billion pieces, compared to 202.7 billion pieces in 2008, a decline of 12.7 percent.
In its report on the financial statements, independent auditor Ernst & Young emphasized that “questions remain about the ability of the Postal Service to generate sufficient liquidity to make all of its payments, including the US$5.5 billion retiree health benefits payment due on the last day of 2010.”
The USPS’ 2010 plan estimates a revenue decline of US$2.2 billion, a net loss of US$7.8 billion, cost reductions of more than US$3.5 billion and a reduction in mail volume of 11 billion pieces for the year.
Fujifilm’s booth dominated the front entrance to Graphics Canada 2009, held in Toronto from November 12 to 14. Many of the exhibitors felt the biannual trade show of printing technologies exceeded expectations.
The total registered attendance for the 3-day show was 8,563, not including exhibiting personnel. “Graphics Canada has proven once again its status as the Canadian national showcase for the graphic communications and printing industry. In these exceptional times, the strong attendance surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts,” said Show Manager Dan Mustata. “My thanks go to the extraordinary group of exhibitors that has shown a strong commitment and dedication to our industry.”
In addition to the following show participants, a more complete gallery of attendees and exhibitors will appear in PrintAction’s upcoming December issue.
In a major move by the Japanese imaging giant, Canon has announced its intentions to buy Netherlands-based Océ in a deal worth 730 million Euros. The all-cash offer involves Canon buying all outstanding shares of Océ at a 70 percent premium over the stock's closing price on Friday.
"We are delighted to welcome Océ, the ideal partner in every respect, into the Canon Group," said Canon's President and COO Tsuneji Uchida. "Through the merger of Canon and Océ, we believe that we will be able to realize clear benefits, not only in the area of R&D, but also in terms of product mix and marketing and are confident that this winning combination will contribute greatly to our goal of becoming the overall number-one presence in the printing industry."
Following the merger, Océ will operate as a division within Canon, but will still be headquartered in Venlo, The Netherlands. Océ's office products will be integrated into Canon's Office Imaging Products. Canon's large format offerings, conversely, will be integrated into the Océ Production Printing Division over time. The two companies estimate it will take three years to fully integrate their various assets.
Canon employs over 170,000 employees worldwide whereas Océ employs over 22,000 in 90 countries.
The Reuters news agency late last week reported that Allianz SE and MAN SE plan to pay off the remaining debt of manroland, to provide the press maker with a clean balance sheet as it enters into the New Year.
Allianz Capital Partners, the private equity arm of Allianz SE, purchased a 65 percent stake of manroland in July 2006, while MAN SE continues to be a significant holder of manroland stock.
In a Friday newspaper article, published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (translated into English as the Frankfurt General Newspaper), manroland Chief Executive Gerd Finkbeiner said, "At the end of 2008, we had no net debt and soon we will be completely free of debt. Our owners will replace the remaining liabilities entirely with equity.”
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