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PRINT 09
With PRINT 09 set to begin this weekend, PrintAction.com previews technological highlights of the five major sheetfed-press manufacturers operating in North America, Heidelberg, KBA, Komori, manroland and Mitsubishi, as well as products from Agfa, EFI, MGI and Standard Finishing.

More previews will be posted throughout the week, with companies featured to date including:

Agfa     EFI     Heidelberg     Komori     manroland

MGI     Mitsubishi     Standard Finishing

PRINT 09-related tech announcements that have appeared in PrintAction.com's Vendor Wire:

Ricoh     Muller Martini     Muller Martini    InfoPrint     xpedx    

Kodak     Xerox     Fujifilm     Pageflex     Pageflex     XMPie

HP     HP     Canon     Dynagram     Dynagram     Prism     Van Son

 


As AbitibiBowater continues to operate under bankruptcy protection, the Montreal-based company has sold approximately 121,000 hectares of private timberlands in Quebec for $53 million in cash.


Timberlands located in the Mauricie, Charlevoix and Saguenay regions were sold to two newly formed limited partnerships held by Société de gestion d'actifs forestiers Solifor, s.e.c. Timberlands located in the Côte-Nord region were sold to Aménagements forestiers Portneuf.

AbitibiBowater is primarily focused on the production of newsprint but also manufacturers commercial printing papers, market pulp and wood products. It is the eighth largest publicly traded pulp and paper manufacturer in the world, with 23 pulp and paper facilities and 29 wood products facilities located in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Korea.


Bruce Bond, President of Unisource Canada, announced that the deal to acquire Mondrian Hall Inc. has been completed, after the national supplies distributor and another company, EM Plastics & Electric Products, submitted competing bids and both signed purchase agreements.

In mid-August, Unisource Canada resubmitted a bid to RSM Ritcher, which was assigned to look after Mondrian's assets under Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act protection, as EM Plastics' agreement was taken off the table.

With the Mondrian assets now secrured, Unisource Canada will expand its presence in the wide-format and sign printing markets. The company states Mondrian Hall will operate as a division of Unisource Canada.

Mike Kearney
xpedx Canada is the new master distributor for Tokyo-based Ryobi Ltd. in Canada, which was formerly handled through manroland. The parent company of xpedx, based in Ohio, has been distributing Ryobi presses in the United States for 34 years.

The Canadian operation will distribute all Ryobi format sizes, including the new 42-plus inch Ryobi 1050 press and the 36-inch Ryobi 920, as well as the 31-inch Ryobi 750 and 780 series presses, the 20-inch Ryobi 520 series and other smaller format presses. The 1050, 750 and 780 series presses run at maximum speeds of 16,000 sheets per hour.

The Tokyo-based press maker recently introduced a new LED-UV curing system for its presses, as well as a new inline casting and foiling system for specialty printing. Ryobi claims its LED-UV system was the first curing unit that replaces conventional UV lamps, with what the company calls long-life UV light-emitting diodes. xpedx claims this type of curing system – also employed by the likes of Mitsubishi on its DIAMOND series – cuts power consumption in excess of 70 percent. The LED-UV unit is also available on the 2-up RYOBI 520 series and the 8-up RYOBI 920 series.

“Canadian printers of all sizes want to boost automation, reduce total production costs and tap lucrative new print markets,” said Michael Kearney, VP and GM of xpedx Canada. “Ryobi has a compelling quality and value offer in state-of-the-art large,Ryobi 1050 mid-size and small presses that can help printers become more productive, efficient and profitable.”

Ryobi parts fulfillment for printers in Canada will be done through xpedx’ Memphis distribution centre.

 


The rumour concerning a possible merger between Heidelberg and manroland arose again after a report from Manager Magazin, a German publication, says the two companies have appointed Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank respectively to advise on the potential merger.

According to the report, the resulting merger would cause an overcapacity for the new company. The magazine suggests it may result in manroland selling, if not closing, its Offenbach operations and cutting the 2,500 people employed there.

Click here to read a translation of the Manager Magazin article.

U.K. publication PrintWeek also found discovered that German print magazine Deutscher Drucker is claiming manroland shareholder Allianz is in discussions with Chinese manufacturer Shanghai Electric on possibly selling parts of manroland's sheetfed business.


With a 42 percent drop in the shipment of commerical printing hardware, HP's Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) saw revenues decline by 20 percent in the third quarter (ending 31 July) to US$5.7 billion. Operating profit for IPG, however, remained stable at US$960 million when compared to a profit of US$1 billion in the same quarter last year.

HP's total revenues for the third quarter of this year came in at US$27.5 billion, which is a two percent drop from the year earlier. “HP’s performance this quarter is a result of our strong business portfolio, efficient cost structure and scale,” said Mark Hurd, HP CEO. “Business is stabilizing, and we are confident that HP will be an early beneficiary of an economic turnaround and will continue to outperform when conditions improve.”

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, revenue dropped 12 percent to US$9.9 billion, while it increased by eight percent in the Americas region to US$12.6 billion. Revenue from outside of the United States in the third quarter accounted for 62 percent of total revenues, with revenues in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) declining six percent over the prior-year period, while accounting for 10 percent of total HP revenues.

Pointing to the completion of its EDS acquisition, HP noted record record profit in its Services division (US$1.3 billion), while revenue in this division increased 93 percent to US$8.5 billion. “Record profit in Services, double-digit revenue growth in China, and solid cash flow demonstrate HP’s ability to execute,” said Cathie Lesjak, HP CFO. The company saw an revenue decrease of 22 percent in its software sales, while the 20 percent decline in IPG was emphasized by a 13 percent drop in supplies revenue.

After announcing it would absorb a €347 million impairment charge in Q3, Finland-based Stora Enso Oyj then outlined plans to lay off up to 1,100 workers as it cuts production and closes mills, domestically. The paper giant currently has 29,000 employees.

“In the past two years, we have transformed the group to improve our long-term 
financial returns, which are the basis for the future of any company. We have 
tried to move as fast as possible, but it has not been fast enough,” said Stora Enso CEO Jouko Karvinen. “The operating environment has deteriorated faster than ever 
before: long-term structural cost inflation in fibre and energy costs has 
recently been followed by dramatic weakening in demand. As we cannot change this 
operating environment, we will instead continue to change Stora Enso so we can 
operate in the new environment.”



Units Stora Enso plans to permanently close down by mid-2010:
 
• Sunila Pulp Mill: annual production capacity 375,000 tonnes of softwood pulp, with 
around 250 employees;

• Imatra Mills PM 8: annual production capacity 210,000 tonnes of uncoated fine 
paper, with around 140 employees;

• Tolkkinen Sawmill: annual production capacity 260,000 m3 of sawn wood, with 
approximately 55 employees.

Units Stora Enso is provisionally planning to permanently close down by the end of 
2010:

• Varkaus mills: annual production capacity 290,000 tonnes of newsprint and 
directory papers, 310 000 tonnes of uncoated fine paper, 270 000 m3 of sawn 
wood; approximately 630 employees.

Units Stora Enso divests in early 2010:

• Kotka mills: annual production capacity 185,000 tonnes of machine-finished 
coated paper (MFC) paper, 175 000 tonnes of laminating paper and Imprex core 
stock, 250 000 m3 of sawn wood; approximately 530 employees.

Goss International has established a new direct sales and support organization in Brazil, which is the world's fifth largest country by geographical area and population (191,241,71). According to the company, over the past five years, printers and publishers in Brazil have ordered more than 100 new Goss printing units.

Headquartered in Sao Paulo, the new Goss International organization is responsible for the full range of Goss commercial and newspaper presses and print finishing systems. The group also manages Goss Lifetime Support aftermarket services, including parts, service and enhancement programs.

“This smooth transition to direct sales and support, with a strong continuity of personnel, streamlines processes and puts our customers in closer contact with our dedicated team in Latin America and throughout the world,” said Goss International CEO Jochen Meissner.

Vitor Dragone oversees the new Goss International organization in Brazil. Dragone, who has 20 years of experience in the graphic arts industry, was previously the director of web offset sales for Heidelberg do Brazil, formerly the agent for Goss products in the country. The Goss International team based at the new facility also includes many other former members of the Heidelberg do Brazil web offset staff. They are now directly connected with Goss International product development and manufacturing facilities in the United States, Europe and Asia; and with a staff of more than 300 people focused on the aftermarket Goss Lifetime Support services in the Americas.

Heidelberg, after announcing its new source of financing, published its financials for the first quarter of its financial year, which spans between April 1 to June 30.

While the company made a modest gain in incoming orders over the previous quarter (€550 million compared to €474 million), the numbers are more than 50 percent down from the same quarter in 2008, (which had sales of €1.151 billion).

"Our package of cost-cutting measures is proceeding according to plan," said Heidelberg CFO Dirk Kaliebe. "In the first three months of the financial year, we achieved a further reduction in personnel costs compared to the previous year, cut inventory levels, lowered research and development expenditure, and cut back significantly on investments. These savings contribute to compensating the impact falling sales are having on the result," he added.


Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG has announced it has secured a credit line totalling €1.4 billion up until the middle of 2012. This is the finalization of the loan pledge by the German Federal and State Governments announced in June.

"Despite the difficult conditions on the financial markets, Heidelberg has succeeded in renegotiating its existing financing structure. The new financing framework will enable the company to bridge the period until the difficulties in securing loans within the financial system ease," stated Heidelberg CFO Dirk Kaliebe.

The financing package consists of three main components - a €300 million loan from the Special Program of the KfW (Reconstruction Loan Corporation) for large companies (with a 50 percent indemnity from the KfW to the banks), a €550 million loan supported by 90 percent guarantee pledges from the Federal Government and the States of Baden-Württemberg and Brandenburg, and a syndicated credit line from a consortium of banks, also for €550 million.

Heidelberg's German competitors, manroland and KBA, have both voiced concerns over this deal, and its potential to cause competitive imbalances in the press manufacturing sector.


Eastman Kodak released its second quarter results with a loss of US$191 million, as well as a 29 percent sales decline, when compared with the year-ago quarter. Sales in Kodak’s second quarter 2009 were US$1.8 billion (all figures in U.S. currency), compared with $2.485 billion in Q2 of 2008.

“We have every expectation that our cash flow pattern this year will mirror the pattern of previous years, with a sizable increase in cash generation in the second half of 2009,” said Antonio Perez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Eastman Kodak. “During the second quarter we continued to execute on our strategy, with our consumer inkjet hardware and ink revenue growth significantly outpacing the market.” To that end, Perez pointed to the first sale of its Prosper S10 Imprinting System in July of this year, as well as a letter of intent from an unidentified customer to purchase a Prosper press.

Revenue from Kodak’s digital businesses totaled $1.173 billion, a 28 percent decline from $1.636 billion in the prior-year quarter, while revenue from its traditional business decreased 30 percent to $593 million. The company blamed these results on “industry-related declines” and “the negative impact on volumes related to the uncertainty of labour contract negotiations in the entertainment industry.”

During its second quarter, the Rochester-based company decreased “selling, general and administrative” expenses by 26 percent, as well as a 38 percent decrease in R&D expenses, which amounted to $84 million. Kodak held $1.132 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30, 2009, while its debt level stood at $1.311 billion.

For its second quarter of 2008, Electronics For Imaging reported revenues of US$90.1 million, compared to US$143.8 million in the year ago quarter. In relating this significant quarter loss, the California-based company pointed to a delay in the commercial release of previously announced inkjet technologies.

“Our results reflect the continued challenges in our industry compounded by the delay in broad availability of our new line-up of inkjet printers. While our overall results are disappointing, we are pleased with the approximately 14 percent sequential growth in our inkjet business and the execution on our commitment to align spending with revenue, with operating expenses reduced by 22 percent year-over-year,” said Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI. “Despite the product delay, we remain very excited with the opportunities for our inkjet segment and the record number of industry-leading new products we plan to bring to market over the next several months.”


Domtar Corporation announced today that it is opening a market pulp sales office in Hong Kong, operating as Domtar Asia Limited, as of August 1, 2009. The company states the primary objective for the office is to provide direct sales and sales services to its current and future Chinese customers.

"By establishing a physical presence in Hong Kong, we are solidifying our commitment to a dynamic and growing Chinese pulp market," said David Liang, Vice-President of Domtar Asia Limited. "Not only will we be able to better serve our customers, through direct relationships and services, but we also have the opportunity to develop and grow our client base."

Liang, who has several years of experience in pulp sales, will head the Domtar Asia Limited office, supported by a staff of three. The offices are located at Millennium City 1, 388 Kwun Tong Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

According to Bloomberg, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, the world's largest press manufacturer, may be in talks with manroland AG to merge the two companies.

The story stems from a report from the July 27th edition of Der Platow Brief, a Frankfurt-based financial newsletter. According to the newsletter, Allianz SE, which has a controlling interest in manroland and a 12 percent stake in Heidelberg, is pressuring the two companies to merge to protect its investments.

The Platow Brief does not cite any sources and neither company would comment on the rumour.

manroland AG was formed in 1979, but has roots in webfed technology going back to 1845. Heidelberg was founded in 1850 and controls 40 percent of the sheetfed offset press marketplace today.

Read the full Bloomberg story

A Michigan circuit court has awarded Valassis US$300 million for compensatory damages in its lawsuit against News America Marketing (NAM), a subsidiary of News Corp. A jury verdict agreed with Valassis’ claim of unfair competition and tortious interference by NAM.

Valassis is a media buyer delivering over 10-billion impressions annually, as well as a large direct-mail printer and a provider of newspaper polybags. "We are pleased with the jury's verdict, and we look forward to moving ahead with our two other cases, including the antitrust case in the Eastern District of Michigan where any compensatory damages will be trebled," said Alan Schultz, Valassis Chairman, President and CEO. “Furthermore, I am very proud of the efforts of our employees who have been competing on this uneven playing field for nearly a decade."

Valassis has additional lawsuits pending against NAM in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, asserting violations of the Sherman Act, and in the Supreme Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles raising claims under California's Cartwright, Unfair Competition and Unfair Practices Acts.

The Eastern District of Michigan case and the California case have not reached a trail stage.

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