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CONSOLIDATORS - Slowing, but Growing

December 2000
BY ERIK CAGLE


When history compares the years 1998 and 2000 in regard to consolidation in the printing industry, two starkly contrasting results will be evident to the naked eye. There really is no comparison, as the degree of major consolidation has slacked off dramatically.

Perhaps it is more important to note that the state of the industry during 2000 was not all that dissimilar from 1998, at least not from close range. Hindsight may eventually offer greater perspective, but the fact of the matter is the economic condition alone did not cause M&A activity to take a back seat. Wall Street rubbed its chin and furrowed its brow after a while, which may have contributed to some public consolidation conglomerates to temper the degree of activity, but one notion is indisputable. Feast all you want, but sooner or later, you need to push away from the table for a little while.

The year 2000 may have featured a little nibbling, perhaps some pie with whipped cream, but now it's time to digest...and integrate. While they're catching their breaths and enjoying an after-dinner coffee, Printing Impressions caught up with four of the leading industry consolidators for a Q&A: Carl Norton, chairman and CEO of Houston-based Nationwide Graphics; Joe Davis, chairman and CEO of fellow Houstonian, Consolidated Graphics; Bruce Thompson, senior vice president of Englewood, CO-based Mail-Well; and Robert Kashan, CEO of IGI/Earth Color, New York City. Kelmscott Communications, of San Francisco—another high-profile consolidator—respectfully declined to participate due to a heavy work schedule, but promised to be back in the news before long.

PI: List your acquisitions that occurred this year, if any.

Norton: Nationwide did not make any acquisitions in 2000.

Davis: We haven't made any acquisitions to date in 2000. We've certainly looked at some good companies and are in negotiations with several of them.

Thompson: While 2000 has certainly not been as active for us at Mail-Well in terms of the number of acquisitions as have some past years, it was our second most active year in terms of acquired sales—more than $560 million. Obviously, our acquisition of American Business Products (ABP) in February represented the lion's share of these sales. The ABP acquisition was the largest deal we have done to date. At the time we acquired it, ABP had sales of over $475 million.

So far this year, our commercial printing acquisitions are Braceland Brothers Printing in Philadelphia; Strathmore Press in Cherry Hill, NJ; and Craftsman Litho, in Waterbury, CT. Finally, we acquired a publicly held envelope manufacturing company in Canada: CML Industries.
 

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