Action was Hot in M&A Market for ’05

Just when you thought 2005 was going to be a relative dud in the merger and acquisition realm, along came fall. And that’s when the action got hot and heavy.

Four monster transactions sent 2005 out with a bang. OK, so we can’t count December—after all, we’re not clairvoyant. But the deals vibrated through the industry, a couple of which involved the two largest printers in North America.

Hey, the late 1990s don’t appear to be returning any time soon, but that doesn’t mean we won’t experience an M&A renaissance.

* RR Donnelley broke its prolonged silence by annexing Spencer Press of Wells, ME. With the move, RRD is looking to leverage Spencer’s catalog business for some cross-selling opportunities.

* EarthColor raised the stakes in the battle for Big Apple supremacy with its acquisition of Applied Printing Technologies. That came out of left field, though we’d been tapped on the shoulder about a New York metro deal.

* Consolidated Graphics (CGX), ever the life of the M&A party, broke out the champagne glasses after it collared a trio of St. Louis companies led by Nies/Artcraft, a small but well-known establishment. This deal was not a surprise. What would be a shock is 90 more days without at least a letter of intent signed by Joe Davis.

* Last but not least, the Quebecor World/Grafikom/MATLET breakaway drew some applause. Nothing is more exciting than the birth of a new printer, even if it’s just on paper, because it happens oh-so rarely. And, in this case, it’s the birth of twins.

Give Quebecor World a lot of credit for being up front about its strategic intentions and hammering out a deal that allows these new companies to focus on their own strengths. The boost in morale for those new entities has to be considerable. No one wants to be thought of as non-core.

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