By Jon Robinson
The Frankfurt branch of Reuters reports that Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG and manroland AG “are set to decide by mid-October whether to proceed with formal merger talks,” according to unnamed sources “familiar with the matter.”
While the Reuters report does not claim a merger is eminent, it does indicate that Heidelberg and manroland executives, and their banking representatives, are involved in serious discussions about melding the two German press makers.
As of yet, no executive from either Heidelberg or manroland has gone on record about the possibility of the merger. At Heidelberg’s PRINT 09 press conference, in Chicago on September 11, CEO Bernard Schreier said, “I do not comment on rumours,” which was a sentiment shared by Vince Lapinski, CEO of manroland North America.
Reuters’ sources suggest Allianz Capital Partners, the investment arm of insurer Allianz, is the driving force behind the merger talks. Allianz has a 65-percent interest in manroland and a 12-percent interest in Heidelberg. One source said, “The government does not at all want state aid [for Heidelberg] to be seen as aid for Allianz.”
The possibility of a merger between Heidelberg and manroland first appeared in mid-2009, when most printing-industry Websites cited various sources within Germany – most focusing on reports from German-based Beyondprint.de and the financial newsletter The Platow Brief. In late August, Beyondprint.de reported that negotiations were underway between Heidelberg’s Merrill Lynch representation and manroland’s Deutsche Bank – with Boston Consulting examining operational issues.
The new Heidelberg-manroland merger reporting, from Reuter’s Philipp Halstrick and Alexander Huebner, quotes one source as suggesting, “There are still a few issues to clear up.”
Relative to Canada’s Federal government, Germany traditionally takes more interest in massive domestic business transactions. In addition to the thousands of employees and millions of dollars that both Heidelberg and manroland infuse into the German economy, any such merger would also need to address the €1.4 billion loan Heidelberg received – through various Federal- and State-level initiatives – in August 2009. The governmental loans fall due in mid-2012.
Details of Heidelberg’s €1.4 billion loan
• €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.