Top Companies Report

2. Flint Group


26b, Boulevard Royal
L-2449 Luxembourg
Phone: +44 (0)161 776 6810
Fax: +44 (0)161 775 5415
2013 Global Sales: $2.9 billion/€2.2 billion.

Major Products: A wide range of inks, coatings, blankets, pressroom chemistry, printing plates, consumables and more. Expertise in solvent-based, water-based, oil-based and energy curable applications, including offset lithography, flexography, gravure, rotary screen, rotary offset and letterpress. Products are designed to support nearly all print segments in the print media and packaging sectors. Also manufactures dry, flushed and press cake pigments, chips and resins for ink and other applications, aqueous dispersions, hyperdispersants and additives for the colorant market.

Key Personnel: Charles Knott, chairman; Antoine Fady, CEO; Steve Dryden, CFO; William B. Miller, president, Print Media; Brent Stephen, president, Asia Pacific; Adhemur Pilar, president, Latin America; Doug Aldred, president, Global Packaging & Narrow Web; Aryan Moelker, president, Flexographic Products; Craig Foster, president, Print Media Europe/Pigments, Chips and Resins; Jan Paul van der Velde, senior VP, procurement; Russell Taylor, senior VP global HR & communications.

Number of Employees: Approximately 6,600 worldwide.

Comments: In a huge announcement, Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division and Koch Equity Development LLC, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc., acquired Flint Group from CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm that held Flint Group since 2005. This sale remains subject to customary closing conditions and should be completed by the second half of 2014.

With 2013 sales of €2.2 billion ($2.9 billion), Flint Group is a major supplier to the printing industry, with leading positions in publication and packaging ink, flexographic printing plates, blankets and sleeves and chemicals for press rooms. Flint Group operates 137 sites in 40 countries and employs some 6,600 people.
With estimated annual sales of $115 billion in 2013, Koch Industries, Inc. is one of the largest privately-held companies in the world. Its products range from building and consumer products, transportation fuels, electronic connectors, fertilizers, fibers, membrane filtration and pollution control equipment. Among its subsidiaries is Georgia-Pacific LLC.

Antoine Fady, CEO of Flint Group, said the acquisition offers new opportunities for the company.

“The management team of Flint Group is excited about this planned new ownership, and the opportunities this now presents,” said Fady. “The investment by Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking and Koch is a clear vote of confidence in our vision, strategic plans, and ‘can do’ culture. Flint Group’s fundamental dedication to safety, sustainability, integrity and compliance will continue to form the foundation of all of our business activities.”

“Flint Group is an exciting opportunity for Koch Equity Development,” said Brett Watson, managing director of Koch Equity Development. “Flint Group is a global leader with a clear strategy and a management team that has a consistent record of delivering results.”

“Partnering with top-tier firms like Goldman Sachs and investing in competitively advantaged businesses with high quality management teams is consistent with Koch’s investment strategy,” added Matt Flamini, president of Koch Equity Development. “We look forward to working with Goldman Sachs and Flint Group to assist the company in transitioning to its next phase of growth.”

“The acquisition of Flint Group fits well into our strategy of investing in leading global franchises and growing them organically and through acquisitions,” noted Martin Hintze, co-head of corporate equity investing in Europe for Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division. “We look forward to working in partnership with Koch Equity Development and Flint Group’s strong management team to execute on their strategy.”

“We believe Flint Group is uniquely positioned to capture growth in its attractive printed packaging markets while at the same time continuing to benefit from strong and resilient performance of its print media business. With a significantly improved capital structure, Flint Group is best positioned to pursue its ambitious growth plans to further strengthen its market leading positions,” added Matthias Hieber, head of corporate equity investing in the German Speaking Region of Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division.

With all of the attention focused on the new opportunities due to this acquisition, Flint Group’s performance in 2013 is easy to overlook. However, the company posted strong results despite facing lower demand.

“As far as ink demand, 2013 felt familiar – lower market demand due to the factors we’ve discussed many times before,” said Bill Miller, president Print Media for Flint Group. “Still, Flint Group fared well. Our strategies take these market conditions into account. By staying true to them, we were able to end the year with strong results.

“By offering unique value to customers, we were able to maintain important business and gain new customers, all of which supported our sales targets in 2013,” Miller added. “Printers, like all other companies in the graphic arts industry, varied widely in gains or losses. Consolidation continued, providing great opportunities for some printers and their suppliers, and innovations enabled some printers to gain leads over their competitors, but the market overall remained tight.”

Doug Aldred, president, Flint Group Packaging & Narrow Web, noted that the packaging and narrow web ink segments fared well.

“The packaging and label market is strong and growing, and we’re excited to be a leading supplier and partner with printers and converters in this innovative arena,” said Aldred.”The packaging and narrow web ink segments did experience growth in 2013. We see the packaging markets as growth opportunities – brand owners continue to become more sophisticated in the way they package products to attract consumers. We also realize the market need for sustainable packaging solutions – products that offer sustainable solutions for our environment, but also economic sustainability – and printing inks and applications can play a key role in this.”

Flint Group made its own acquisition in December 2013, acquiring the remaining shares of its Lima, Peru-based Tintas Graficas Vencedor (TGV) from Corporación Peruana de Productos Quimicos S.A. (CPPQ). TGV was a joint venture between Flint Group (49.95%) and CPPQ. TGV is a specialist in liquid packaging inks (solvent- and water-based) and the resale of narrow web, flexographic plates and sheetfed inks.

“TGV is a great fit for Flint Group,” Adhemur Pilar, president Flint Group Latin America, said. “Their infrastructure and expertise will help Flint Group boost our business in the areas of packaging and narrow web inks, sheetfed inks and plates in the Andean region.”

Flint Group enjoyed growth in many product segments last year, with packaging, narrow web and energy curing being particularly strong.

“Flexible packaging and labels will continue to lead industry growth,” said Grant Shouldice, vice president technology and marketing for Flint Group’s North American packaging group. “We also expect folding carton to continue a slow and steady increase, especially as printers continue to capitalize on – and expand – their energy curing capability. Flint Group’s Packaging & Narrow Web group launched a number of new and innovative products that will provide valuable momentum for our growth in 2014.”

“Flint Group has a uniquely well-rounded portfolio,” Miller concluded. “The product diversity, attention to quality and focus on customers will help us maintain our leadership position and continue to grow.”