Transition to Digital Printing Roils the Book Industry – July 2013 M&A Activity
Transactions in the book printing industry took center stage in July; the headline act was the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Cengage Learning. The company is now moving rapidly to a digital strategy, as it seeks to shed more than $4 billion in debt through the bankruptcy process. CEO Michael Hansen, as reported by Bloomberg, squarely placed the blame on the company itself for not adopting digital quickly enough, due to the “belief that the print model would hold up better than it actually did.”
Private equity firm Castle Harlan increased its position in the book printing industry with its investment in Bookmasters, which has expertise in digital book printing. The deal was announced as a strategic partnership between Bookmasters and Castle Harlan’s existing portfolio company, Baker & Taylor, the world’s largest distributor of books and related materials. The two companies will continue to operate independent of each other.
Edward Brothers Malloy, formed in February 2012 with the merger of two book manufacturing companies, announced the closure of one of its two printing facilities in Ann Arbor, MI. John Edwards, CEO of the company, attributed the closure to a significant decline in the demand for longer runs which utilized the offset printing process. He also noted that the closure is consistent with the company’s strategic effort to grow its digital book printing business. The company is capable of the “distribute-then-print” model of content delivery, using its several remote digital printing facilities in the US, as well as its one facility in the UK.
Bucking the trend toward digital book printing, Publisher’s Graphics, an innovator in internet-based ordering and online sales of digitally printed books, acquired Corley Printing, a traditional offset book printer with capability to produce longer runs printed on offset presses.
Consolidation was once again the main act in the packaging industry, with an assist by private equity. Chicago PE firm Svoboda Capital Partners was back in the market. Svoboda acquired TVC Label and “bolted” the company onto its platform company, M.E.I. Labels, which it acquired in December 2012. Madison Dearborn Partners, also of Chicago, announced that it agreed to buy Multi Packaging Solutions from Irving Place Capital, preparing Multi Packaging Solutions for a second act in its growth from inception in 2005 to global player in the packaging industry. Back on the deal log for the third time in less than two years, publically traded Multi-Color Corporation acquired Flexo Print, a label printer in Guadalajara, Mexico.