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2006: Year That Was Stranger Than Fiction —Michelson

December 2006
AS WE finish compiling the annual PRINTING IMPRESSIONS 400 ranking—now in its 23rd year—it’s a good time to reflect on major events that helped shape our industry during the past 12 months. A fiction writer would have been hard-pressed to develop a plot line with more drama, intrigue and folly than what played out in 2006 at some of the printing industry’s largest publicly held establishments.

Front and center, of course, was the unsolicited, and cantankerous, takeover attempt of Banta by hard-charging Cenveo Chairman and CEO Bob Burton. After several volleys back and forth between Burton and Banta Chairman, President and CEO Stephanie Streeter, Banta ultimately rejected a $50 per share offer by Cenveo and set its own cost-cutting wheels in motion by announcing the closure of five facilities and layoffs of more than 500 people. The $35 million initiative also included some “shark repellent” in the form of a special $16 per share cash dividend payable to Banta stockholders.

“Big Bad Wolf” Burton set a Halloween deadline for his takeover proposal, expecting “Little Red Riding Hood” Streeter to fold under the pressure and succumb to his takeover bid—just as the former board of directors at Cenveo had done—averting a special shareholders’ meeting and proxy vote that would surely ensue. But just when it appeared Burton might prevail, in swoops “White Knight” Mark Angelson, RR Donnelley chairman and CEO, to the rescue with a $1.3 billion or $52.50 per share offer ($36.50 per share after the special $16 dividend previously declared by Banta).

Streeter will not serve a role in the new Donnelley/Banta structure. But don’t assume there won’t be any big-ticket presents under her Christmas tree this holiday season. According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper, Streeter will walk away with three times her annual pay plus a bonus, totalling more than $6.6 million. And, to make sure it doesn’t all go to Uncle Sam, an additional $4.5 million payout will cover her increased tax liability. Her stock options and restricted shares of Banta stock are reportedly worth an additional $7.2 million.

With the acquisition expected to close in late March 2007, Banta’s rank-and-file employees will surely not be so blessed as a result of the transaction. There won’t be fairy tale endings for many, as Banta is integrated into RR Donnelley’s existing assets. But, will there be even more fallout at Banta in terms of plant closures and layoffs than what would have transpired should Burton had prevailed?
 

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