Mergers & Acquisitions
AlphaGraphics Inc., a global franchisor of design, printing, marketing and communications businesses, has been purchased by fellow franchisor Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) Worldwide. Following the acquisition, MBE will hold a network of approximately 2,600 locations in 39 countries, including nearly 500 locations in the U.S.

In addition to its own printing operation interests, MBE specializes in third-party logistics, concentrating on shipping, micro and related retail-logistics services. MBE also acquired the U.S.-based PostNet franchise system in April 2017.

AlphaGraphics will continue to operate as an independent company and will retain its current management team, with headquarters remaining in Salt Lake City. “This is an exciting development for the AlphaGraphics franchise system,” said Gay Burke, AlphaGraphics Executive Chair. “Combining forces with MBE Worldwide creates unique opportunities to synergize with colleagues similarly steeped in managing a franchise-based network of entrepreneurs.”
Electronics For Imaging Inc. has purchased Escada Systems based in the United Kingdom and with operations in the United States, which develops Corrugator Control systems for the packaging market

EFI has a growing interest in corrugated production, primarily based on its drupa 2016 introduction of the Nozomi C18000 high-speed single-pass LED inkjet press. The company has also developed versions its Fiery DFE, inks, and the EFI Corrugated Packaging Productivity Suite aimed at the sector.

The addition of Escada's technology, providing control and traceability for the corrugation production process, will enable EFI to expand the Productivity Suite’s value to sheet feeders and corrugated box plants. “The addition of Escada makes EFI a one stop shop for enabling packaging companies to improve the quality, efficiency and profitability of the corrugation process, using their existing corrugators,” said Gabriel Matsliach, Senior VP and GM, EFI Productivity Software.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but EFI explains it is not expected to be material to EFI’ss Q4 or full year 2017 results. Escada employees, including founder and former principal Gavin Bushby, have joined EFI's Productivity Software business unit.
ICON Digital Productions Inc. of Markham, Ont., has acquired controlling interest in Asterisk Media, a Toronto-based creative studio. Asterisk Media will now operate as a division of ICON Digital and will be rebranded as ICON Motion Inc.  They will continue to operate from their current Liberty Village location.

Asterisk specializes in creating video content for multiple platforms. “We started this company after seeing the impact of how digital enabled viewers to have two-way conversations with brands,” said PJ Lee, Founder and President of Asterisk Media, who will serve as President of the newly created ICON Motion division. “We decided to build a company that was nimble and able to produce high-quality, high-frequency content that matched our partners’ content strategies.”

ICON explains the deal will enable it to offer Asterisk’s suite of services such as commercial production and post-production, as well as 360/VR and livestream. “This is an excellent fit with our overall growth strategy to be a multi-faceted visual communications company and is consistent with our company mandate to be ‘All Things Visual’” said Juan Lau, CEO and President of ICON Digital.
 
This is ICON’s second acquisition of 2017, following its February purchase of Toronto Trade Printers (TTP). The ICON group of companies reached $32 million in sales last year prior to the TTP and Asterisk acquisitions. With offices in Toronto, Markham, Montreal and New York City, ICON Digital now operates four divisions with high-end production capabilities for display graphics, digital signage, commercial printing and video production.
The C.J. Group of Companies has merged with Annan & Sons, both of which are based in Toronto, Ontario. Both Paul and John Annan, along with several of their staff members, are scheduled to join C.J. Graphics in that company’s new Mississauga location at the end of October 2017.

C.J. Group explains Paul and John Annan will be overseeing the management of their division, including production and sales of their current clients. Going forward, John, who served as President of Annan & Sons, will also have a position on C.J.’s management team.

“As we started planning to relocate our production, we recognized C.J. Graphics as a great fit for our customers,” said John Annan. “C.J. Graphics is well known for great quality and service. This merger will allow us to continue to offer these high standards to our customers. C.J. Graphics is also very innovative in new technologies which will give us more products to offer to our clients.”
Transcontinental Inc. has announced specifics regarding the sale of some of its Quebec-based newspapers assets, a plan that was first made public in April 2017 when the company launched a process to sell all of its newspapers in Quebec and Ontario, which are controlled under the Montreal company’s TC Media operation. That move came just weeks after selling its newspaper assets in other provinces.

The Quebec and Ontario newspaper sales process, which Transcontinental expected to span several months, involves 93 local and regional publications and their related web properties, including the Métro Montreal newspaper.

Transcontinental is selling its two Drummondville-based publications, L'Express Wednesday Edition and L'Express Weekend, to a Canadian corporation in part led by the company’s former TC Media General Manager for this region, Dave Beaunoyer. The 19 employees of these newspapers are transferred to the new entity, along with four employees from TC Media's production team.

Six of the publications within TC Media’s newspaper sell-off announced last April are going to Gravité Média, a group that includes Julie Voyer, former General Manager at TC Media for the Montérégie region. These publications include: Le Journal Saint-François, Le Soleil de Châteauguay, Brossard Éclair, Le Courrier du Sud, L'information d'Affaires Rive-Sud, and Le Reflet (Delson).

The 55 employees of these publications are transferred to Gravité Média. In addition, nine employees from TC Media's production and finance teams will continue their careers with Gravité Média.

TC Media also announced the sale of its weekly Le Peuple Lotbinière to MELIORMÉDIA Inc. Three employees are transferred to the purchaser.
Sun Chemical has acquired Joules Angstrom U.V. Printing Inks Corp., a manufacturer of UV printing inks for converters in the commercial, packaging and specialty printing markets.

“This partnership will give both Sun Chemical and Joules Angstrom numerous opportunities to provide customers with expanded product lines and services… we plan to work together to provide customers with more exciting and innovative UV printing ink solutions,” said Charles Murray, President of North American Inks, Sun Chemical.

Based in Pataskala, Ohio, Joules Angstrom was founded in 1999 when Patrick Carlisle, who currently serves as the company’s President, began to focus specifically on UV printing ink.

In addition to its Pataskala location (just outside Columbus), Joules Angstrom has a customer service centre is located in Chicago, which is supported by other branch locations in Minneapolis, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Cansel has been an Autodesk Platinum Partner, supporting customers across Canada, for more than eight years. In 2015, Cansel merged its Ontario Autodesk business unit into SolidCAD. Now, SolidCAD and Cansel have consolidated their national operations forming the largest Canadian Autodesk Platinum Partner, newly branded as SolidCAD, a Cansel Company.

“SolidCAD and Cansel have been two of our most valued resellers in the Canadian market,” said Marcus Tateishi, Senior Partner Manager at Autodesk. "The strength of these highly specialized teams now working as one will be a benefit to our mutual customers. This new partnership provides expert personnel committed to the Autodesk product portfolio across the country and is an investment we are proud of."   

With more than 10 offices across the country, SolidCAD now describes itself as the only national Autodesk reseller owned in Canada, operating in both official languages. SolidCAD has a combined team of more than 40 technical consultants across the country to help firms overcome challenges with design, production, collaboration and project deliverables.

“Having worked closely with SolidCAD since the 2015 merger of our Ontario Autodesk business, we are eager to bring this newly combined organization to the marketplace in Canada.” said Stephen Fletcher, Vice President, Cansel. “This milestone represents the opportunity to bring a broader product portfolio and depth of expertise to our clients and confirms our investment in providing top quality customer service.”

SolidCAD specializes in technology that supports multiple industries including Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Civil Infrastructure and Manufacturing.
Pollard Banknote Limited of Winnipeg, Manitoba, entered into a definitive agreement to purchase all of the issued and outstanding common shares of INNOVA Gaming Group Inc. based in Los Angeles, California. The purchase agreement, which is not subject to due diligence or financing conditions, is unanimously supported by INNOVA board and its largest shareholder holding approximately 41 percent of outstanding shares.

After initially expressing interest in acquiring INNOVA’ shares in March, Pollard Banknote increased its offer to $2.50 per share for a total equity value of approximately $51 million. This represents a 19 percent premium to Pollard Banknote’s original offer of $2.10 per Common Share and a 66 percent premium to INNOVA's closing share price of $1.51 on the TSX on March 9, 2017, the last trading day prior to the public announcement of Pollard Banknote's initial proposal to acquire INNOVA.

“This transaction delivers significant value to INNOVA's shareholders and is the result of an extensive and rigorous process conducted by the special committee of the INNOVA Board to identify value maximizing alternatives for INNOVA's shareholders,” said Richard Weil, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of INNOVA. “The INNOVA Board is unanimous in its recommendation that INNOVA's shareholders tender their Common Shares to the revised offer."

Under the terms of the new agreement reached on August 1, 2017, INNOVA has agreed, among other things to grant Pollard Banknote a right to match any alternative transaction proposal made by another party, and to pay a fee of approximately $1.5 million to Pollard under certain circumstances if the transaction is not completed.

“We are very pleased to have the support of the INNOVA board and look forward to combining the strengths of our two companies,” said John Pollard, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Pollard Banknote. "INNOVA and its Diamond Game operating business represent unique assets that fit well within Pollard Banknote's expanding product portfolio.

“Pollard Banknote and INNOVA share many of the same customers,” continued Pollard, “and we believe that the combination of our two firms will allow Pollard Banknote to further grow its partnership with lotteries and charitable organizations seeking to expand the funds they generate for good causes and to grow the combined revenue base of Pollard Banknote and INNOVA."

INNOVA develops unique games and products for the global gaming industry, with particular focus on state and provincial lotteries. Through INNOVA's wholly-owned subsidiary, Diamond Game Enterprises, INNOVA focuses on enhancing the revenues of government-sponsored lotteries and other regulated operators by offering its unique "extended play" products in traditional and non-traditional gaming venues.

INNOVA's primary product is its third generation Lucky Tab machine, an instant ticket vending machine that dispenses tickets while simultaneously displaying the results of each ticket on a video monitor.
Sydney Stone of Mississauga, Ontario, has purchased Vertex Graphic and Business Equipment of Vancouver, BC.

“Acquiring Vertex allows Sydney Stone to expand its footprint into a major market and provide Vertex customers with more choices, new programs and economies of scale that will help them to operate their businesses more efficiently,” said Michael Steele, who purchased Sydney Stone in 2008 with business partner Dylan Westgate. “ They will also continue to enjoy great service from [former Vertex owners] Brad and Anne, people they have come to trust and rely upon.”

With an existing national footprint, Sydney Stone’s acquisition of Vertex provides a stronger customer base in British Columbia and Alberta. Both companies distribute and service a range of print finishing equipment.

“Anne and I have made this decision in order to bring our customers a wider product range and additional programs and to concentrate more specifically on our great service offering,” said Brad Munro of Vertex. “We’re looking forward to achieving great things with Michael and Dylan.”
Supremex of Montreal has concluded the acquisition of Stuart Packaging Inc., a folding-carton printer for the consumer market, based in Mont-Royal, Quebec. Supremex is a manufacturer and marketer of stock and custom envelopes, as well as packaging and specialty products, for the North American market.

This acquisition, according to the company, brings its share of total revenues from packaging and specialty products to more than 22 percent on an annual pro-forma basis and represents a key building block for its growth strategy.

The transaction was concluded for total cash consideration of $17.5 million, in addition, an amount of up to $2.1 million will be payable in 24 months subject to the realization of certain pre-established financial targets over that period.

Founded in 1983 by Stuart Goldman, Stuart Packaging generated annual revenues of approximately  $18 million over the past 12 months. It employs approximately 65 people at a 68,000-square-foot facility.
Jet Label & Packaging of Edmonton, Alberta, described as Western Canada’s largest producer of labels and printed tape, has acquired United Label Company of Coquitlam, BC. Jet Label explains the additional space and production capacity will allow it to double in size over the next two years, during which time additional infrastructure investments will be made to the newly acquired facility.  
 
United Label’s facility currently operates four conventional flexographic presses ranging in width from seven to 10 inches and 3- to 8-station colour capabilities, as well as a variety of slitters, rewinders, finishing systems and inspection systems. Jet Label’s Edmonton facility, which operates 24/7 across three shifts, utilizes two HP Indigo Digital presses along with 12 traditional flexographic presses ranging in width from  six to 20 inches and 3- to 10-colour station capabilities. Less than a year ago, Jet Label & Packaging began installing two systems from print inspection manufacturer AVT at its manufacturing facility in Edmonton, Alberta. 

Acquiring United Label Company greatly expands one of Jet Label’s key customer sectors: mass-market retail.  United Label Company’s client roster currently includes a variety of retailers, wholesalers, and pharmacies, among them Costco, IGA, London Drugs and Safeway.

“Combining forces with our friends at United Label Company is a perfect fit for Jet Label strategically, bolstering our retail sector business segment while providing much-needed additional capacity to other branches of our customer portfolio,” said Darrell Friesen, President of Jet Label & Packaging Ltd. “Along with VP of Operations Rodney Froment and the entire team at Jet Label, I’m proud to welcome the staff at United Label Company into our family, and look forward to years of continued growth and success.”

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in its 54,000-square-foot Edmonton facility, Jet Label manufactures labels and printed tape for industries food & beverage and grocery stores, consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, forestry, and industrial applications.

The company explains it produces a range of durable, reliably water- and weatherproof labels that stand up to the types of harsh conditions in which many of its customers operate. Jet Label also produces a variety of address labels, and supplies parking and boarding passes and baggage tags to Edmonton International Airport.
LSC Communications, the Chicago-based printing entity spun off from RR Donnelley in October 2016, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Creel Printing, a privately owned offset and digital printing company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The acquisition would bring together two of North America’s largest printing companies, including LSC which holds two of its 49 facilities in Canada – Mississauga and Newmarket.

“The alignment with LSC will create tremendous value for both companies, our employees and our loyal customers. I personally am incredibly excited about the future of Creel and LSC,” said Creel’s CEO, Allan Creel. Creel’s capabilities include full-colour web and sheetfed printing, variable digital production, large-format printing, and integrated digital solutions. Creel’s history dates back to the 1950s. The company runs a 250,000-square-foot facility in Las Vegas and four digital facilities, including a plant in France.

According to U.S.-based trade magazine Printing Impressions, Creel has approximately 700 employees operating out of six facilities across the country and – based on the magazine’s annual 400 listing – is ranked among the Top 10 largest publication and the Top 50 commercial printers in the country. The Printing Impressions 400 listing indicated Creel generated sales of US$130.1 million in its most recent fiscal year.

Led by Chairman and CEO Thomas Quinlan III, LSC ranked No. 3 on the latest Printing Impressions 400, reporting 2016 revenues of US$3.65 billion with 49 manufacturing plants and approximately 20,000 employees. LSC has facilities in the United States, Poland, Mexico and Canada.

“This acquisition will expand the capabilities of LSC’s offset and digital production platform and bring enhanced technologies to support our clients’ evolving needs, specifically in the magazine media and retail marketing industries,” said Quinlan. “With one of the most advanced digital platforms in the U.S., plus a strong west coast presence, Creel is an excellent fit for LSC.”
Quark Software Inc. has been acquired by Parallax Capital Partners LLC, a southern California-based private equity firm, founded in January 1999 to make investments in middle market software and related technology companies. It has since acquired more than 20 companies typically generating anywhere from $5 to $100 million in annual revenues.

Parallax states it intends, through organic growth and acquisitions, to help Quark accelerate the adoption of its content automation solutions, which enables organizations to deliver content (text, video, data, etc.) to any format and channel – mobile, print, Web and more. In May 2017, Quark also released a new version of its QuarkXPress software.

Quark has positioned itself as a leader in content automation and was recently selected as a Gartner Cool Vendor in Content Services and a 2017 SIIA CODiE Award finalist for Best Multi-Channel Publishing Platform.

“Quark has achieved what so many established brands fail to, which is to reinvent our company in the face of insurmountable odds,” said Quark President and CEO Ray Schiavone. “Through content automation, today Quark enables some of the world’s largest organizations to transform customer experience, reduce time-to-market, improve compliance and reduce costs.”

Financial details of the acquisition were not released. Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset management firm, served as the exclusive financial advisor to Quark in this transaction.

“Quark is having a transformational impact within a wide range of industries, completely redefining how organizations create, manage, publish and deliver business-critical content,” said James Hale, Managing Partner at Parallax. “This is a company with outstanding talent and leadership, innovative technology and acclaimed customer base.”
The C.J. Group of Companies has purchased Clixx, one of the top mailing facilities in Canada, from WestRock Company. WestRock had owned Clixx for a little more than a year after reaching an agreement in December 2015 to acquire six Cenveo Packaging facilities, including Clixx.

Clixx is now added to C.J. Group’s roster of 30 companies, which are to be housed in the company’s new 230,000-square-foot facility in Mississauga, Ontario. After taking possession of the facility in May 2017, C.J. Group is scheduled to move its opeartions in by October 2017. Sherwin Abrazaldo, a Clixx veteran, will head up the new C.J. Group Clixx division and lead the move to its new Mississauga home on 560 Hensall Circle.

“This acquisition [of Clixx] is a great fit for our ever-expanding group of companies,” said Jay Mandarino, President & CEO, C.J. Group. “There is a lot of synergy between our two organizations. Quality and workmanship with exceptional service are paramount at both [C.J. Group] and Clixx.”

The acquisition adds a host of equipment and services to the C.J. Group’s existing resources, while also increasing the company’s overall versatility. Clixx offers a full line of direct-mail services like variable data printing and binding, in-house data and postal technologies, pick and pack, kitting and fulfillment, inserting, tipping, and many other related mailing services. Clixx began in 1986 as A&T Mailing Services and soon established itself as a premier mail house for charities, fundraisers and large corporations.

“With direct mail increasing each year this will be a great addition and was the last missing link to having all solutions under one roof to better serve our clients,” said Mandarino.
The Burke Group of Companies has acquired McCallum Printing Group. Both companies are located in Edmonton, Alberta, bringing together two of the leading print and media companies in the region, creating an entity with a range of services.

“As the printing industry progresses, we understand that diversification is the key to long-term growth and prosperity,” said Ian Burke Owner and CEO of Burke Group. “So, when we saw the opportunity to join forces with McCallum Printing – one of our largest and most respected competitors – I jumped in with both feet. The acquisition of McCallum compliments our overall service perfectly.”

Darren Pohl, McCallum Printing’s former President and CEO has committed to stay on in a senior management capacity to oversee sales and sales management.

“I am thrilled to see Edmonton’s top two printing companies come together like this. I’m even more excited to be a part of this new organization,” said Pohl. “The economies of scale and efficiencies that will be created mean a superior customer experience. Our pillars of strength have always been exceptional service, quality and innovation and this merger will not only strengthen those, but also expand the suite of services we can offer our clientele.”

Being from the same primary Canadian city, McCallum and Burke Group’s staff have worked together in the past for other printing operations and share similar culture and community focus.
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