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Analyzing Printing Industry Mergers During Early 2014

By David Savastano, Editor | 06.05.14

Mergers in the publishing printing side have slowed, but changes in the packaging segment are on the rise

The printing industry is constantly changing as mergers and acquisitions reshape the field. For ink manufacturers, these changes are critical, as customers grow larger or leave the business completely.

The most dramatic changes have come on the publishing sides, with hundred million dollar companies frequently being acquired by larger competitors. That makes some sense, as their customer base is shrinking, and larger printers hope that economy of scale will make a difference in the bottom line. Publication printers can also look into new, more promising markets.

In contrast, the packaging side of the printing business is doing well. It stands to reason that companies will look to increase profits and move into new product or geographic markets in that segment by acquiring competitors.

As we near the end of the first half or 2014, there have been quite a few acquisitions in the printing field, of which I will highlight examples of each of these.

• Publication Printing Acquisition: Actually, there is one recently-completed major acquisition that stands out. Earlier this month, Quad/Graphics completes its acquisition of Brown Printing Company, announced in April, for a net purchase price of $100 million.

Quad/Graphics expects Brown, which is strong in the fields of magazine and catalog printing, to generate approximately $350 million in revenues during fiscal year 2014.

“As Brown’s employees and operations join our worldwide platform, Quad/Graphics is better positioned than ever to help magazine publishers and catalog marketers capitalize on the power of print and integrated media solutions to further drive results,” said Joel Quadracci, chairman, president and CEO of Quad/Graphics.

•  Publication Printer Branching Out Into Packaging: Here are two examples of this type of purchase. In March, Transcontinental Inc. acquired Capri Packaging, Clinton, MO, a flexible packaging producer. Capri Packaging had annual sales of approximately $70 million, of which roughly 75% were from its owner, Schreiber Foods, Inc.

This is notable as TC Transcontinental’s main business is publication printing. As part of the agreement, Schreiber Foods, Inc. signed a 10-year agreement with Transcontinental to continue to use Capri Packaging as a strategic supplier of flexible packaging.

“It represents a strategic move for the corporation into a new promising area, flexible packaging, where we can significantly leverage our manufacturing competencies,” said François Olivier, president and CEO of Transcontinental Inc.

On a much smaller scale, R.R. Donnelley & Sons acquired True Colours, a provider of wide-format print solutions, headquartered in Vancouver in May. What is interesting about this is that it adds to R.R. Donnelley’s position in the Western Canadian digital market, which is a growth area.

• Packaging Printer Moving Into New Markets: Here are two examples of this trend. To meet its goal of focusing on paperboard packaging, Graphic Packaging announced that it is selling its multi-wall bag business, including nine multi-wall bag converting plants located throughout the U.S. and the Pine Buff, AR kraft paper mill, to Mondi Group.

Graphic Packaging’s multi-wall bag business recorded sales of approximately $437 million during the past year.  Mondi Group reportedly will acquire the business for $105 million in cash.

“The anticipated sale of these non-core assets substantially completes our transformation into a pure play, vertically integrated paperboard packaging company,” said David Scheible, Graphic Packaging’s chairman, president and CEO.

Meanwhile, Graphic Packaging completed its acquisition of Benson Group, which was first announced in February. Benson Group operates four folding carton facilities in the UK, and has more than 200 customers. This plays to Graphic Packaging’s core market.