Saturday, June 7, 2014

It’s Academic – Scholarly Journals are Big Business – May 2014 M&A Activity

Digital content platforms attracted financial and strategic buyers last month, as increasingly sophisticated online systems drive information to centralized providers that automate the design, hosting and distribution of content. That content may or may not be printed, and often times will be printed only on-demand as the final consumer sees fit for their needs.

Academic journals caught the interest of private equity investor Accel-KKR, which acquired a majority interest in HighWire Press. HighWire, formerly a venture of Stanford University, has been spun off and launched into the competitive world of PE-backed companies. HighWire provides an open electronic platform for universities and other publishers of scholarly journals to develop and host their academic journals. Long noted for high page counts and short runs, academic journals were a natural and early adopter of online publishing. Notably, there is no actual printing press at HighWire Press and the content managed on its platform is delivered in digital form.

Across the country at another august institution, Princeton University, the ripple effect is being felt, with the announcement last month that the California Princeton Fulfillment Services, publisher and distributor of about 340 books for Princeton University, will be winding down and closing by this time next year. As the investment in digital publishing platforms continues to improve the management and delivery of online content, Princeton University Press has decided to outsource the hosting and fulfillment of publications to Perseus Distribution Services. Perseus boasts its own digital distribution services, linked to short run and print-on-demand partners, as well as over a million square feet for warehousing pre-printed books. The partner in the Princeton operation, The University of California Press, will be moving its digital journal content over to HighWire.

Two trends evident from recent transactions appear unrelated at first, but may in fact be connected, as larger companies invest in sophisticated customer-facing software platforms, and draw business away from the small mom-and-pop shops. Staples, the national chain of office supply retailers, acquired PNI Digital Media, a provider of digital print software that provides easy online ordering of consumer and corporate printed products. This follows on the heels of other recent transactions in the web-to-print space, such as Vistaprint’s acquisition of Pixartprinting last month. Over the past couple months, we have noticed an increase in the number of small local commercial printing and copying centers that filed for liquidation under Chapter 7; we found six that filed in May. This is in addition to an unknown number of small printing company owners that just gave, up, closed the door and walked away without the expense of actually filing bankruptcy. I expect that we’ll see more closures of independent small print/copy shops, driven in part by the increasing ease with which customers can go online and purchase their printing.

The buyer of the Boston Globe and the Telegram & Gazette, acquired last August in the spin-off from The New York Times, sold off the Telegram & Gazette which serves the mid region of Massachusetts. The buyer was Halifax Media, backed by PE firms Stephens Capital Partners and Redding Investments. In a twist of fate, the sale to Halifax brings former corporate cousins back under the same management, since Halifax had previously purchased and still owns the former New York Times Regional Media Group which consists of newspapers primarily located in the southeast US.

In another newspaper industry transaction, the Baltimore Sun Media Group announced that it is acquiring The Annapolis Capital and other local papers in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun Media Group is likely to find itself as the target in the near future, as it is owned by the Tribune Co., which also owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and has announced that it plans to divest its portfolio of newspapers.

Wide format printers were targets in several deals in May, including the acquisition of wide format franchisor Speedpro Imaging in a deal backed by private equity investor Fairfield-Maxwell. The Garvey Group which as we reported in July 2013 acquired the western wide format division of Schawk, continued its growth by acquisition strategy with the purchase of retail display and wide format specialist Troyk Printing located in Franklin, Michigan. Industry behemoth RR Donnelley acquired the relatively tiny True Colors, a wide format shop in Vancouver, British Columbia.

2014 May - Mergers and Acquisitions in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries  

Deal Party #1
(Surviving Entity)
($Mil )

Party #1 Address

Deal Party #2
($Mil )

Party #2 Address

Deal Structure


Accel-KKR No Data Menlo Park, CA HighWire Press No Data Redwood City, CA 5/30/14 No Data Purchase of Majority Interest Academic journal e-platform Link
Welch Packaging No Data Elkhart, IN Go Packaging No Data Lombard, IL 5/30/14 No Data Acquisition Corrugated packaging Link
DocuSource $1,600 Dallas, TX Formit Print Management No Data Portland, OR 5/30/14 No Data Acquisition Printing & promotional items Link
Halifax Media Group No Data Daytona Beach, FL Telegram & Gazette No Data Worcester, MA 5/21/14 No Data Acquisition Regional newspaper Link
Fairfield-Maxwell No Data New York, NY Speedpro Imaging No Data Scottsdale, AZ 5/19/14 No Data Acquisition Wide format franchisor Link
First Edge Solutions No Data Milwaukee, WI Proven Direct No Data Milwaukee, WI 5/16/14 No Data Acquisition Digital printing & mailing Link
Phoenix Media
(Div Jiangsu Phoenix Publishing)
No Data Nanjing, China Publications International
(Children's Book Products)
No Data Lincolnwood, IL 5/14/14 No Data Acquisition Magazine & book publisher Link
RR Donnelley $10,620 Chicago, IL True Colours No Data Vancouver, BC 5/13/14 No Data Acquisition Wide format printing Link
Tinicum No Data New York, NY F+W Media $60.0 New York, NY 5/9/14 No Data Acquisition
(Jordan Edmiston)
Publisher of specialty titles Link
Rapid Color Printing No Data Las Vegas, NV American Craftsman Technology No Data Atlanta, GA 5/7/14 No Data Acquisition
(HBT - Horizon)
Commercial printing Link
Garvey Group No Data Milwaukee, MI Troyk Printing No Data Franklin, MI 5/6/14 No Data Acquisition Retail display & wide format Link
Staples $22,950 Framingham, MA PNI Digital Media CDN $25.7 Vancouver, BC 5/5/14 CDN $73.9 Acquisition Digital print software Link
Baltimore Sun Media Group
(Div. Tribune Co.)
No Data Baltimore, MD The Annapolis Capital &Others
(Div Landmark Media Enterprises)
No Data Norfolk, VA 5/1/14 No Data Acquisitions Regional & local newspapers Link
Mitchell Graphics No Data Petoskey, MI Progress Printers No Data Traverse City, MI 5/1/14 No Data Acquisition Commercial printing Link

2014 May - Bankruptcy Filings in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Filing Party

($Mil )

Case #

Filing Party Address


Region & City


Attorney for Debtor

Chapter 11 Filings:
The Bookhouse Group 5/30/14 No Data 14-60536 Covington, GA 11th Northern GA
C. Ray Mullins Paul Reece Marr Publishers of commemorative books
Chapter 7 Filings:
IPF Printing Inc 5/29/14 No Data 14-20541 Valencia, CA 9th Central CA
Los Angeles
Sheri Bluebond Pro Se Printing & copying
Edge Digital Graphics Express, LLC 5/12/14 No Data 14-59412 Kennesaw, GA 11th Northern GA
Barbara Ellis-Monro Samuel D. Hicks Wide format printing
Digital Pressworx, LLC 5/12/14 No Data 14-32350 Lantana, TX 5th Northern TX
Barbara J. Houser Jonathan L. Howell Commercial printing
Los Angeles Printing Center, Inc. 5/9/14 No Data 14-19093 Los Angeles, CA 9th Central CA
Los Angeles
Sheri Bluebond David S. Hagen Printing & copying
Graphics Express of LA, L.L.C. 5/8/154 No Data 14-20430 Lake Arthur, LA 5th Western LA
Robert Summerhays David J. Williams Printing & copying
Steele & Steel Printing Inc. 5/2/14 No Data 14-11048 Wakefield, RI 1st Rhode Island
Diane Finkle Lisa A. Geremia Commercial printing

2014 May - Non-Bankruptcy Closures in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Closed Company / Facility

Date of Closure
($Mil )

Closing Address
Related Party Related Party
Date Closure Public


Source Interlink Jun-14 $750 Bonita Springs, FL None N/A 5/30/14 Magazine distribution Link
Banner Printing 5/25/14 No Data Sierra Vista, AZ None N/A 5/25/14 Printing & copying Link
California Princeton Fulfillment Services Jun-15 No Data Ewing, NJ Princeton University Princeton, NJ 5/18/14 Outsourcing document services to Perseus Link
Manilla 7/1/14 No Data New York, NY Hearst Communications New York, NY 5/16/14 Paperless document system Link
Resolute Forest Products - Pulp Mill Jun-14 No Data Fort Frances, ON Resolute Forest Products Montréal, QC 5/6/14 Pulp & paper mill (idled Nov-12) Link
Hiatt Printing Campus Facility 5/16/14 No Data Ball University,
Muncie, IN
Hiatt Printing Munice, IN 5/2/14 Printing & copying / Course materials Link