CanwestCanwest has submitted and received an extension on its creditor protection in order to give the company more time to restructure.

In order to do so, the company submitted a request to extend creditor protection until to April 14. The court's protection was originally set to expire this Friday. Ontario Superior Court Judge Sarah Pepall approved the extension this morning as well as the changes to the newspaper auction plan.

According to the Canadian Press, a committee of noteholders has complained that the bidding process for Canwest LP is not robust enough. In response to this, the first phase of the auction has been extended a week, to March 5. The complaint was that the process gave lenders too much power in the auctioning process.

Bloomberg reports that 15 potential bidders have signed non-disclosure agreements to look into the newspapers' confidential information. Canwest current publishes 12 daily newspapers, including the Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen.

Eastman Kodak has announced its fourth quarter earnings and it has seen a 45 percent increase over profits in the third quarter and a six percent improvement over the same quarter in the year previous.

"Despite a difficult economic environment, we delivered in 2009," said Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Eastman Kodak Company. "Our momentum is returning and our strategy is paying off. During 2009, we generated significant traction with our key digital businesses, we achieved sustainable operational improvements across the company, our earnings improved substantially, and we ended the year with more than $2.0 billion in cash on our balance sheet."

The company, however, still incurred a net loss of US$232 million in 2009, compared to a US$727-million loss in 2008. Full-year revenue fell 19 percent, totaling US$7.606 billion.

Kodak achieved the results via a series of cost-cutting measures, including cutting R&D by 25 percent and Selling, General and Administrative expenses by 15 percent. Gross Profit margin was 34.4 percent of sales, an increase from 20.4 percent in the year-ago period. At the start of 2009, Kodak announced job cuts of 3,500 to 4,500 jobs, representing up to 18 percent of its payroll.

Quad/Graphics Inc., described as the largest privately held printer in the United States, announced today that its board of directors has unanimously approved a move to acquire Montreal-based World Color Press Inc.

If the acquisition is completed it would create one of the world’s largest printing companies, with the expanded Quad/Graphics employing nearly 30,000 people in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe. World Color Press (Worldcolor) and Quad/Graphics had aggregate non-audited revenues of US$5.1 billion – for the 12-month period ended September 30, 2009 – and aggregate non-audited, adjusted EBITDA of US$647 million.  

The transaction is expected to close sometime in the summer of 2010. Quad/Graphics’ management estimates the integration of the two companies will result in US$225 million in savings within 24 months. Mark Angelson, currently the CEO of Worldcolor, is to stay on with Quad/Graphics as Chair of the Board Committee on Integration and Consolidation. Joel Quadracci will serve as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the expanded company.  

“Quad/Graphics has a long tradition of leadership and operational excellence.  I have the highest regard for Joel and his management team, whom I consider to be among the best and brightest executives anywhere,” stated Angelson, in a press release about the pending deal.

The acquisition, if completed, would represent the second huge M&A maneuver in the past decade by Mark Angelson, who in 2004 played a major roll in combining Moore Wallace with R.R. Donnelley to create the world’s largest printing company. 

Bloomberg news reports that ASK Financial, a trustee for Quebecor World (renamed World Color Press in mid-2009), filed around 1,700 complaints for the return of US$390 million that the Montreal printer made in pre-bankruptcy payments.

After Qubecor World emerged from bankruptcy protection in July 2010, Bloomberg reports that ASK Financial began preparing some 1,700 complaints for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. The litigation is designed to retrieve payments that Quebecor World made – around US$390 million in total – within 90 days before filing for bankruptcy protection in January 2008.

Paper companies make up a substantial portion of ASK Finacial’s list, which also includes recognizable names like Heidelberg, Kodak and RR Donnelley. Proceeds from the litigation, according to Bloomberg’s report, will go to unsecured creditors.

Read Bloomberg report: Quebecor Sues UPM, Catalyst, NewPage for $55 Million

Montréal-based Objectif Lune, which develops document-processing software, has acquired Edmond Document Solutions of The Netherlands. Much like Object Lune, Edmond Document is described as a developer of applications for the repurposing and enhancement of documents.

“We are confident this new partnership will allow both parties to speed up research and development, offer even more complete solutions and open very promising new markets,” said Didier Gombert, CEO of Objectif Lune.

Beyond Canada, Objectif Lune has offices in 10 other countries, including: The Netherlands, Australia, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.

Xerox Corp. reported fourth-quarter total revenue of US$4.2 billion, which beat analyst expectations despite the fact this represents a 3-percent revenue drop relative to the fourth quarter of 2008.

Xerox’ profit in the fourth quarter of 2009 rose to US$180-million from US$1-million in the year-ago quarter. Total revenue for Xerox’ 2009 fiscal year came in at US$15.2 billion, down from US$17.6 billion in 2008.

"We delivered a strong close to a difficult year, with solid operational results that reflect our disciplined approach to generating cash and reducing costs," said Ursula Burns, Xerox CEO. "During the fourth quarter, we saw signs of improvement in several areas including developing markets, and we remain quite confident in our strong global competitive position.

“However, we believe revenue will continue to be under pressure until there is a more sustainable economic recovery.”

On January 20, Xerox announced the acquisition of Irish Business Systems for around US$31 million. By acquiring Irish Business Systems, Xerox claims it has gained access to more than 11,000 new customers in Ireland, primarily focusing on the small- and mid-sized business market.

The Globe and Mail this morning reports on the strong reaction from Montreal unions and business leaders after Pierre Karl Péladeau, Quebecor CEO, published an open letter criticizing unions in le Journal de Québec.

Quebecor Inc., the parent company of Quebecor Media, has been in a yearlong battle with unions at the le Journal de Montréal. At the same time, The Globe reports Montreal business leaders are supporting Péladeau’s comments about "entrenched [union practices] that have no place in a global economy.”

Read The Globe and Mail article

Belgium-based Agfa Graphics has completed the asset acquisition of Gandi Innovations Holdings LLC, which integrates technologies to build large-format inkjet devices.

The purchase involves most of Gandi’s North American assets, as well as shares in its principal foreign subsidiaries. In addition to a recently opened manufacturing facility in Mississauga, Gandi’s Website lists sales offices in Texas, Mexico City, India, South Africa, Belgium, Dubai UAE, and Hong Kong, with over 40 distributors worldwide.

The acquisition was announced in November 2009, six months after Gandi filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada, through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, and in the United States, through Chapter 15.

EFI Connect 2010Robert Tapella, CEO of the U.S. Government Printing Office and responsible for more than $1 billion in print-related revenue, is scheduled to keynote EFI’s 11th annual Connect users’ conference.

Tapella was appointed to lead the Government Printing Office (GPO), one of the most influential printing entities in the world, by former President George W. Bush in 2007. Tapella, who becomes the 25th Public Printer of the United States, has been with the GPO since 2002 and previously served as a staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While Tapella is scheduled to kick off EFI Connect on the night of April 18th, Joan Davidson, Group President of Sheridan Publications Services, will provide a second keynote on the morning of April 20th. Davidson is a recent recipient of the NAPL Soderstrom Award, and previously served as Chairman of the NAPL Board of Directors.

EFI Connect is scheduled to run from April 18 to 21 at Wynn Las Vegas. The conference, with over 120 break-out sessions (see link below) is designed for users of EFI technology – Monarch (Hagen), Pace, PrintSmith, Logic, PSI, Fiery, VUTEk, Rastek and Jetrion.

EFI Connect details

Xerox Corp. has formed a partnership to jointly market and sell the Espresso Book Machine developed by New York-based On Demand Books LLC. The machine is designed to quickly reproduce books on demand, with many systems being installed at libraries to focus on copyrighted, public domain, out-of-print, or rare texts.

On a worldwide basis, Xerox will now sell its 4112 copier integrated with the Espresso Book Machine.

The Espresso can reproduce paperbacks with trim sizes between 4.5 x 5.0 inches and 8.25 x 10.5 inches. According to the companies, with the Xerox 4112, the Espresso produces a 300-page book in less than four minutes and has the capacity to print over 40,000 paperback books per year.

The Espresso uses EspressNet, a proprietary software system that connects the device to a network of 3.3-million titles obtained with the approval of the publishers. EspressNet tracks all jobs and provides payments to publishers, while Content owners retain full rights and control of their digital files.

Bob Thistle service information

Date: Saturday, February 6th at 2:00 pm.
Location: First Alliance Church, 3250 Finch Avenue East, Scarborough.

Bob Thistle passed away over the weekend at the age of 77. As founder of Robert E. Thistle, he became one of Canada’s most-important figures in distributing printing technology over the past few decades.

Bob Thistle began his career in printing back in 1953 when he was hired as a Toronto-based service technician for AM International, where he worked until 1969. At that time, he decided to attend a seminary full time but continued to service equipment on evenings and weekends to support his family.

Then in 1972, Thistle started his own equipment company, under the name Offset Machine Services, to repair and rebuild Multilith presses. Within a few years, his brother Harry and eldest son John, joined the company as it grew by leaps and bounds. They needed to open up a machine shop to build parts for all of the Multilith presses they were servicing. While still a teenager, Steve Thistle joined his father’s operation, which soon after purchased the Multilith inventory from AM International’s bankrupt Canadian division.

In the late 1970s, Steve and Bob Thistle developed the Thistle Dampening System for small-format offset presses. This technology was sold across North America through various manufacturing channels. Later, they also introduced the Smart Plate CTP system to Canada.

Then in the late 1990s, Steve Thistle began steering Robert E. Thistle to focus on the distribution and servicing of finishing technologies. In 2006, Steve purchased the business from his father, who was starting to wind down his career. Maintaining the strong brand name built by his father, Robert E. Thistle around 2006 moved to its current location in Markham, Ontario. Today, Thistle is a major distributor of CP Bourg collators and perfect binders, as well as Challenge cutters and folders, among other finishing technologies.

Bob Thistle passed away peacefully early in the morning on Saturday, January 16, while in residence at the Mount Hope Centre long-term-care facility in London, Ontario.

The British Columbia chapter of the Society of Graphic Designers (GDC) have partnered with Hemlock Printers Ltd. to establish the Jim Rimmer Community Scholarship for Design.

Jim Rimmer passed away last week at that age of 76. Over his 50-year career in design, book design and typography, Rimmer became one of Canada’s most important typographers and was revered within the local and international graphic arts industry.

The scholarship was actually announced in November 2009 at an annual GDC/BC event called Practivism, which Rimmer could not attend because of his battle with cancer.

"We are very proud to support the next generation of designers in our community, and feel it's fitting to honour Jim Rimmer's contributions to the field with this scholarship,” said Dick Kouwenhoven, President and CEO of Burnaby-based Hemlock Printers.

The Jim Rimmer Community Scholarship for Design will be awarded annually to two students “who demonstrate the use of design thinking to benefit their community, and have used print to effectively communicate a message, effect action, or promote change.”

Applications for the two $1,000 scholarships are due at the end of September and will be judged by representatives of Hemlock Printers and GDC/BC. Recipients will be announced each November at Practivism.

“Jim Rimmer is an icon of Canadian design, craftsmanship and ingenuity. This scholarship is a reminder to the new generation of design thinkers that we need to retain the principles of our craft,” said Marga Lopez, MGDC, President of GDC/BC.

Read Remembering Jim Rimmer

Bloomberg.com reports this morning that Canon’s $1.1-billion bid for Océ NV “may be in jeopardy after holders of 13 percent of the Dutch company said they won’t tender their shares and a group representing about 200 investors said the offer was too low.”

The Bloomberg article (link below) includes comments from a Canon spokesperson, as well as financial analysts who suggest it is not vital for Canon to obtain 100 percent of Océ’s shares at this time. 

The article also points out that the deal is fully supported by Océ executives. There are currently no counter bids on the table. Océ, yesterday, reported fourth quarter net loss of €23 million.

Read Bloomberg’s report

The sale of CanWest Global's newspaper holdings is set to begin later this week, despite strong objections from CEO Leonard Asper, who feels these assets are undervalued in the current economy.

CanWest Global has been operating under bankruptcy protection since October 2009, with RBC Dominion Securities acting as the company's financial advisor. RBC Dominion has found four potential suitors – Corus Entertainment, Shaw Communications, Fairfax Financial Holdings and Jim Pattison Group – to invest in the CanWest parent company, according to The Globe and Mail (see link below, along with two other related news links).

Each of these potential investors show varied interest in CanWest’s broad group of media assets. RBC has positioned the newspaper division to be sold separately. The Globe reported, that last week, CanWest CEO Leonard Asper wrote a letter in an attempt to stop creditors from putting CanWest’s 45 newspapers, as well as the National Post, up for sale.

While Asper feels the sale of the newspaper division is being rushed, and that a better price can be garnered when the economy improves, Grant Robertson of The Globe points out, “CanWest's newspaper division, known as CanWest LP, has fallen seven months behind on its debt payments. The bank has warned Mr. Asper that he now has no say over whether the assets are sold to recoup $935-million the senior lenders are owed.”

CanWest’s newspaper division owes creditors more than $1.3-billion. The auction for this division, and its 45 newspapers, is scheduled to begin this Friday. It will not include the National Post.

Read The Globe and Mail articles:

CanWest Draws four potential bidders

CanWest newspapers go on block despite CEO Asper's objections

CanWest lenders can't wait on sale, Scotiabank tells Asper

Jim Rimmer, famed Canadian typographer and designer, passed away last Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Rimmer founded Vancouver-based Pie Tree Press after retiring from a career as a linetype operator at the North Shore Citizen.

"I didn't quit just because I was 65. It was just good timing. I was living as an illustrator and letterer and that kind of work just completely disappeared," Rimmer told PrintAction in a story about him in September 2003. "The trade was beginning to evaporate. So I left letterpress as a trade but continued to practice it as a craft."

At Pie Tree Press and Rimmer Type Foundry in his home city of New Westminster, BC, Rimmer was able to express his talents in letterpress and design at a time when the craft hit a resurgence in the art community. Despite an initial mistrust of computer technologies, late in his career he embraced it and started designing typography digitally.

Rimmer was responsible for the typeface Stern, the first font to be created in metal and digital formats at the same time. In his career as a type designer, he has created over 200 typefaces. In 2006, Rimmer wrote an autobiography Leaves from the Pie Tree, which features all of this fonts as well as his design philosophy.

Read the September 2003 story on Rimmer and letterpress printing.

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