YEAR IN REVIEW - Is M&A Now DOA?
The pace of consolidation picked up around mid-year, one with an interesting twist. ImageX.com, a business-to-business Internet company out of Bellevue, WA, purchased a “bricks and mortar” operation, Howard Press of Roselle, NJ. Banta Corp. purchased Southeastern Color Graphics of Johnson City, TN, and Englewood, CO-based Mail-Well picked up Craftsmen Litho, of Trumble, CT. A number of smaller deals were also consummated in a show of consolidation confidence.
K/P Corp., of San Ramon, CA, invested more than $6 million company-wide to upgrade equipment, expand services to new markets and move to a more digital workflow.
Reynolds & Reynolds, of Dayton, OH, dealt its Information Services Group to The Carlyle Group of Washington, DC, for $360 million cash, creating an $800 million printing and document outsourcing giant, Relizon.
Big Flower Holdings underwent a series of changes, starting with its name, by becoming Vertis Inc. Three of its divisions were consolidated and its corporate headquarters relocated to Baltimore.
A new competitor entered the consolidation scene when Watt/Peterson, of Plymouth, MN, and crosstown rival Cimarron Printing merged to create Printing Partners of America. The entity intends to acquire more companies.
Buoyed by a new contract to print National Geographic, Pewaukee, WI-based Quad/Graphics unveiled a two-year, $600 million expansion program. It included a $70 million investment to acquire seven major new pieces of press and finishing equipment.
The news was not all good. Master Graphics and its wholly owned subsidiary, Premier Graphics, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure the company’s $205 million debt. By year’s end, the company announced its plan to exit Chapter 11, based around maintaining 11 core facilities. The remaining companies under the Master Graphics umbrella will be sold or divested.
It was also a record-setting year for Graph Expo and Converting Expo 2000, with new standards set for attendance and physical space.