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Year in Review -- QW Grabs the Headlines

December 2008 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
IF THIS magazine chose to hand out an award for the biggest newsmaker of the year, the 2008 honor would go to Quebecor World (QW), hands down.

One might contend that the attention, while merited, is not the type of exposure a company would want: Financing issues, trying to sell an unprofitable venture and muddling through with bankruptcy in two countries. But Quebecor World is a printer for our economic times, the No. 2 in North America at a time when market leaders (Circuit City, AIG, Lehman Bros.) have come crashing down. 

And, as the year progressed, the Montreal-based printer proved it was laying the foundation to become a shining example of responsible restructuring as opposed to mismanagement and avarice. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re here to present you with the greatest hits...and misses...of 2008.

In January, we reported on the failed sale of Quebecor World’s European business, as shareholders of Netherlands-based RSDB voted down the proposed C$341 million deal. Days later, Wes Lucas, president and CEO of Quebecor World, resigned his position. He is replaced by Jacques Mallette, as the company files for Chapter 11 credit protection in the United States and Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in Canada.

Cost-cutting initiatives were fairly popular during 2008. AbitibiBowater of Montreal shut down four mills for good and lopped off around 2,600 jobs in order to save $375 million by 2009. Meanwhile, in an effort to achieve $265 million in synergies, the NewPage-Stora Enso merger leads to mill closures and consolidations, along with about 600 lost jobs.

Wisconsin residents were up in arms when, for the second time in a little more than a year, their social security numbers were exposed in a mass government mailing. As a result, the printer, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), of Plano, TX, offered the impacted people a year’s worth of credit monitoring.

Good news and bad news made its way from the U.S. Postal Service. On the plus side, the USPS rate increase fell in the 2.9 percent range, below the rate of inflation. But, perhaps, in an omen of things to come, the USPS reported that mail volume was down 3 percent for the first quarter of fiscal year 2008.

In late January, tragedy struck at Digital Pre-Press International in San Francisco where a pregnant employee, Margarita Mojica, was trapped and killed by a diecutter. She had been preparing the machine, which was off, for a new job.



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