Mergers & Acquisitions

Cascades Inc. of Kingsey Falls, Quebec, reached an agreement to sell its Norampac Avot-Vallée mill to a private-equity firm called OpenGate Capital. The company expects the transaction to be completed on March 1, 2011.

Located in the north of France, Norampac Avot-Vallée specializes in the manufacturing of linerboard (white Testliner) made from 100 percent recycled fibres. It produces more than 145,000 tons annually and has approximately 160 employees.

“This transaction is part of our strategy to simplify our portfolio of assets, reduce our debt and concentrate on developing and improving the competitiveness of our key operations in packaging, tissue papers and recovery,” said Alain Lemaire, Cascades' President and CEO. “Therefore, I wish to thank all the employees for their involvement and efforts over the last 20 years.”

Electronics For Imaging of Foster City, California, expanded its business-management software portfolio with the acquisition of Streamline Development LLC, which develops the PrintStream MIS product. PrintStream CEO Laurence Snyder is joining EFI’s Advanced Professional Print Software (APPS) division.

PrintStream technology focuses on direct mail, as well as general mailing and fulfillment services provided by printing companies. In particular, the PrintStream Warehouse Management/Fulfillment module will now become an add-on module to a number of EFI's existing ERP/MIS products. EFI’s existing MIS portfolio includes Monarch, Pace, PrintSmith and Radius. EFI will continue to support PrintStream installations but will not sell the technology as a standalone MIS product.

“While PrintStream is the first product we have acquired as part of our new consolidation strategy, we will be actively seeking out additional Print ERP/MIS solutions world-wide to consolidate,” said Marc Olin, GM of EFI APPS.

EFI’s annual Connect user conference, with a significant amount of focus placed on the MIS segment, takes place April 26 to 29 at Wynn Las Vegas.

After emerging from bankruptcy protection in mid-December 2010, AbitibiBowater, one of the world’s largest newsprint manufacturers, has reached a binding agreement to sell its 75 percent interest in ACH Limited Partnership. As part of the transaction, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has also agreed to sell its 25 percent interest in ACH.

The agreement values ACH’s hydro assets, which have a combined capacity of approximately 131 MW, at approximately $640 million.

The sale, to a consortium formed by a major Canadian institutional investor and a private Canadian renewable energy company, is expected to generation around $300 million for AbitibiBowater. Most of the proceeds will be used to pay down company debt.

“We are looking forward to the completion of this transaction. Our intention is to immediately apply $100 million of the proceeds from this sale to reduce company debt,” stated Richard Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer of AbitibiBowater. “We intend to protect the cost structure of the Iroquois Falls and Fort Frances mills and remain committed to reducing costs.”

RockTenn and Smurfit-Stone announced last week that it has reached an agreement which will see Georgia-based RockTenn acquire Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. The value of the transaction is approximately US$3.5 billion.

"RockTenn's acquisition of Smurfit-Stone is another major step in our transformation of RockTenn to be the most respected company in our business with a laser focus on exceeding our customers' expectations and creating long term shareholder value," said RockTenn's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, James A. Rubright in a statement. "The containerboard and corrugated packaging industry is a very good business and U.S. virgin containerboard is a highly strategic global asset. With this acquisition, RockTenn's fiber input ratio will be 55 percent virgin and 45 percent recycled. We believe this transaction provides the greatest possible career opportunities for our co-workers from both companies."

RockTenn was founded in 1936 and employs over 10,000 people in 90 facilities across five countries, including Canada. This new acquisition will make the company the number two producer of containerboard in North America and the number two producer of coated recycled board.

As previously announced in September 2010, manroland AG has begun management changes inline with its corporate growth strategy. This includes merging its Small Newspaper Presses business unit (located in Plauen, Germany) with the Large Newspaper Presses business unit (in Augsburg) to form a Newspaper Printing Systems business unit under a single management structure.

Georg Riescher, former Executive VP of the Small Newspaper Presses unit, assumes leadership of the new combined unit. Anton Hamm, who previously headed up the Large Newspaper Presses unit, has been named as the Executive VP of manroland’s Technology Center for Webfed Printing Systems. The Technology Center combines training, engineering for testing and processes, as well as the implementation of new products. 

Back in September 2010, manroland and its investors, Allianz Capital Partners, announced new measures aimed at long-term success for the company. “We are convinced that manroland must seize these opportunities as a company on a stand-alone basis,” explained Gerd Finkbeiner, CEO of manroland, in September. “To remain successful in the long run, manroland must make adjustments to its structures and processes. As a result, the three German production sites will be assigned clear core competencies. In addition, the main focus is firmly on growth markets and the services sector.”

manroland released the following three main points about its restructuring and long-term strategy:

1. An unchanged basic structure: manroland will continue to build systems for sheetfed printing and web offset printing at three sites. Each of the three sites will be assigned a specific core competence:

      • In the future, the sites in Augsburg (web offset presses) and Offenbach (sheetfed presses) will concentrate exclusively on manufacturing complex parts and assembly,

     • The Plauen site will become the business sector for industrial production. As a competence center for mechanical production and module assembly, the Plauen plant will manufacture products for manroland and other customers.

2. Integration of the business activities for the sheetfed and web offset sector:

     • Consolidation of the business units for small newspaper presses (until now at the Plauen site) and large newspaper presses at the Augsburg site,

     • Centralization of electronic activities,
     • The foundry in Offenbach will provide both business sectors with cast parts,

     • Concentration of the central functions for the Group at the Augsburg site.

3. Establishment of a new Technical and Industrial Services business sector consisting of about 300 employees who will focus on the following activities:

     • Industrial consultation,

     • Subcontracting of highly qualified technical experts.

Carsten Knudsen, CEO of EskoArtwork, announced that U.S.-based Danaher signed a Share Purchase Agreement for 100 percent ownership of EskoArtwork – a deal worth approximately €350 million.

EskoArtwork’s current shareholder, Axcel, a Danish investment group, expects the transaction to be concluded within the first half of 2011.

“We have been extremely satisfied with our investment in EskoArtwork,” said Sigurd Lilienfeldt, Partner at Axcel and responsible for the investment in EskoArtwork. "During Axcel's ownership, EskoArtwork has repositioned itself into a world-leading company within its field. This is not only due to the merger with Artwork Systems, but also because of significant R&D investments leading to a range of new leading-edge solutions. This innovation capacity of EskoArtwork has been instrumental for the impressive EBITDA growth during our ownership leading to this very successful exit for Axcel.”

Danaher, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, is described as a diversified technology company that designs, manufactures, and markets products and services to professional, medical, industrial and commercial customers. The company and its 47,000 employees generated US$11.2 billion of revenue in 2009.

Upon closing, EskoArtwork will become a part of Danaher's Product Identification platform. EskoArtwork employs around 1,050 people worldwide and generated €184.1 million in revenues in 2010.

“This is an important and very positive step in the continued development of the company,” said Carsten Knudsen, CEO of EskoArtwork. “I and the entire management team are excited to see Danaher's strategic interest to acquire the company and develop EskoArtwork as an autonomous business. We see this as a vote of confidence in our strategy and a strong belief in our ability to continue to grow in the future.”

MeadWestvaco Corp. has agreed to sell its Envelope Products Group to Stamford-based Cenveo Inc. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, while the deal is expected to close by the end of 2010.

“Cenveo is focused on expanding its envelope platform, and adding the Envelope Products Group underscores our continued strategic growth plan for the business,” stated Robert Burton Sr., Chairman and CEO of Cenveo. The Envelope Products Group has approximately 910 employees in the United States.

In other news, Cenveo has acquired Impaxx Inc., the owner of Gilbreth Packaging Solutions, from affiliates of Aurora Capital Group, a Los Angeles private equity firm. Gilbreth operates a facility located in Croydon, Pennsylvania, and has approximately 75 employees.

Gilbreth is described as a full-service manufacturer and marketer of full-body shrink sleeves, tamper-evident neck bands and medical and electronic tubing.

Burton stated: “The acquisition of Gilbreth expands our specialty packaging into the growing shrink sleeve market. Gilbreth's product line complements Cenveo's existing offerings and will create immediate cross-selling opportunities for both companies' customers.”

Eastman Kodak has announced it will be acquiring substantially all of the assets of the relief plates business of Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Company (TOK). The acquisition will expand Kodak's capabilities, particularly in the packaging industry.

The relief plate business includes flexography, letterpress, Braille and molding plate products produced and marketed by TOK worldwide. Included in the acquisition agreement is a manufacturing plant located in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, that produces relief plates.

“Kodak is strongly committed to the packaging industry and we are seeing growing demand, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. We are delighted by this opportunity to add TOK’s talented employees to our existing team for the benefit of our customers and shareholders,” said Douglas Edwards, Kodak Vice President and General Manager, Prepress Solutions. “Delivering solutions for the packaging industry is one of Kodak’s key corporate growth initiatives, and we expect to double revenues in this segment by 2012, so this will contribute toward that goal.”

Approximately 100 employees part of TOK's relief plate business will join Kodak after the completion of the acquisition, expected to close in the first quarter of 2011. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

After announcing the purchase of an Agfa :M-Press in April of this year, Scarborough-based Cameron Advertising Displays has now acquired Schawk Cactus Imaging.

“Our company is uniquely positioned to provide a comprehensive range of both analogue and digital print solutions such as retail signage, fleet graphics, billboards, banners, packing, fulfilment, etc., for a broad range of new and existing customers around the world,” stated Bob Deveau, President of Cameron Advertising, on news of the Cactus Imaging purchase.

Cameron Advertising currently runs two facilities, including a 30,000-square-foot space that houses a 5-colour IST Inline UV screen press, as well as a 12,000-square-foot facility geared toward large-format inkjet production. In addition to the :M-Press, the company also lists the following machines in use for large-format production: VUTEk QS 32000 flatbed, VUTEk 3360 roll to roll, 72-inch Mimaki fabric printer, and an HP 5500.

“Customers in the print industry are increasingly looking for partners who can deliver a complete, national solution," stated Greg Donais, who was recently appointed as VP for Cameron Advertising. “We are now better positioned than any other supplier to deliver on this promise.”

Cameron Advertising, with over 60 staff today, has served the screen-printing needs of the Greater Toronto Area for more than 60 years, while Cactus Imaging has been in business for 18 years.

Read April 2010 article: Cameron Advertising Purchases :M-Press

Montreal-based Transcontinental Inc. last week announced plans to close its Boucherville, Quebec, printing plant on December 17, 2010, which will result in laying off around 180 employees.

"Over the past several years, Transcontinental has invested heavily in new printing technologies that have made it significantly more efficient and augmented its production capacity," said Jacques Grégoire, Senior VP, Magazine, Book and Catalogue Group. "Today, because of the major structural changes in the printing industry that have led to decreased demand in certain niche markets, Transcontinental is faced with overcapacity in the book, catalogue and magazine segment of its print network."

On November 1, Transcontinental announced the purchase of Vortxt Interactive, for an undisclosed sum, in an effort to build up its recently introduced Marketing Communications Sector. The move follows the company's Lipso Mobile acquisition from earlier this year.

“Every day we work with our customers on analyzing, executing and deploying marketing strategies that are built on personalization and new communication platforms. The acquisition of Vortex Mobile fits in perfectly with this approach,” stated Christian Trudeau, President of Transcontinental's Marketing Communications Sector. Today, Transcontinental's digital platforms deliver content through more than 150 Websites.

Founded in 2004, Vortex Mobile has 37 employees who, along with Vortex co-founder, Brady Murphy, will join the 900 employees in Transcontinental's Marketing Communications Sector. Murphy's new position will be VP of Sales, Mobile Solutions.

After signing an intent to merge in February 2010, R.R. Donnelley and Bowne yesterday announced that the termination date of the merger agreement has been extended from October 23, 2010, to January 23, 2011.

RR Donnelley and Bowne previously disclosed on May 12, 2010, that each had received a request for additional information (commonly known as a "second request") from the Federal Trade Commission under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

Completion of the transaction remains subject to the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the HSR Act and other customary closing conditions. RRD and Bowne expect the transaction to close during 2010.

RRD claims to work with more than 60,000 customers worldwide, while Bowne employs 2,700 people around the globe in 50 offices.

Quad/Graphics announced new plans for its Canadian operations, formerly that of Quebecor World. Quad's plant in St. Jean, Quebec, will cease production by the end of the year, eliminating approximately 270 jobs.

Following the closure, the company will have eight printing plants in Canada: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Montréal, St. Laurent and LaSalle, Quebec; Aurora and Concord, Ontario; Edmonton, Alberta; and Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as a premedia facility in Toronto that offers prepress, photography and creative services.

The company also announced a $23 million investment in its Canadian operations, which includes training and new equipment within the next year. The Edmonton plant will be realigned to produce retail inserts and directories, moving the plant's other commercial work to a facility in Aurora, Ontario. This will result in 30 jobs being eliminated in Edmonton.

“We are committed to Canada and are structuring our operations to deliver the best quality on the most efficient and flexible manufacturing platform coast to coast and nearest to our customers’ end users,” said Joel Quadracci, Quad/Graphics Chairman, President & CEO. “This strategic investment will improve our platform and is a big step toward strengthening our position in Canada.”

Transcontinental Media has acquired Group Média-Business Inc, publisher of Journal Le Nord, a weekly newspaper with circulation of 50,000 serving 12 municipalities in the Laurentians.

“Transcontinental is committed to serving local communities, and with today’s announcement, we truly cover the Laurentians with three titles: Le Nord, Point de vue Sainte-Agathe and Point de vue Mont-Tremblant,” said Serge Lemieux, Transcontinental Media’s Vice President, Newspaper Division, Québec and Ontario. “We are proud that these publications and their online counterparts are at the heart of what’s happening in the community by allowing local residents and business to stay in the know and the now.”

Groupe Média-Business was owned by François Laferrière and employed 15 staff members, all of which are now part of Transcontinental Media. Transcontinental Media now publishes 64 community newspapers in Quebec with a weekly circulation of over 2.5 million, distributed through its Publisac distribution network.

Konica Minolta will be divesting its offest printing plate business, including subsidiary American Lithoplate to Southern Litoplate Inc. The deal is scheduled to close on October 1.

Kazuhiko Fukushima, President and CEO of Konica Minolta Graphic Imaging, Inc. said, "Konica Minolta Graphic Imaging has a long standing tradition and heritage in the prepress and printing supply business. We are honored by our loyal customer relationships over these many decades. We thank our customers for their belief and support which fueled our growth in the CTP and conventional plate business over the last three years."

Southern Lithoplate Chairman and CEO Edward A. "Trip" Casson, says the company intends to expand its international markets "including, but not limited to South America." Southern Lithoplate has its roots going back to 1934 with a regraining business and was the first manufacturer to incorporate rolled aluminum as the primary substrate. The company relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1981 and incorporated as Southern Lithoplate.

Peter Wilkens, President and CEO of Agfa Graphics North America, stands to gain an extensive distribution network in the United States after the Belgium-based technology company announced an agreement to purchase Pitman Company.

The move boosts Agfa's annual revenue in the U.S. to over US$500 million. The company also states that the EBIT margin of the Pitman business is expected to be inline with Agfa's seven percent global EBIT target. As well, Agfa will expand its product portfolio most notably in the areas of prepress, inkjet (media, inks and wide-format devices), and packaging (flexography plate solutions).

"One glance at Pitman’s extensive catalogue is enough to understand that we will considerably expand our scope,” stated Stefaan Vanhooren, President of Agfa Graphics' worldwide operations. "One of the main drivers behind this decision was the fact that we gain a unique opportunity to significantly grow our inkjet business."

A few days before the Agfa-Ptiman deal was announced, Kodak released a statement that it had ended its distributorship agreement with Pitman. Kodak stated it notified Pitman that it is terminating Pitman’s right to distribute all Kodak products, to take effect at the end of business on October 5, 2010. "Kodak is expanding its relationship with xpedx because we believe it will support the best interests of our customers," stated Don Whaley of Kodak North America.

Pitman issued an immediate response to Kodak, stating that it remains committed to its customers in the U.S.-based printing industry. Based in Totowa, New Jersey, Pitman has 502 employees across 16 locations in the United States. The company celebrated 100 years in business back in 2007.

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