Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bankrupt Yellow Page Publishers, Google, and Printed Travel Guides – August 2012 M&A Activity

The separation between content creators and ink-on-paper grew wider in August. John Wiley & Sons, the publisher of thousands of journals and books, sold its travel-related assets, including Frommer’s guide books, to Google, essentially declaring defeat for printed travel guides and victory for the ultimate non-print content delivery company. Added to Google’s purchase last year of Zagat’s guides, the transaction is a clear indication that content is king, as the world’s ultimate neutral “contentless source” moves further into delivering its own content.

In another transaction, 
seemingly unrelated, Dex One is merging with SuperMedia to form Dex Media. Both companies are descendants of the moribund yellow page industry, having both gone through bankruptcy to shed debt and each now struggling to cope with steadily declining revenues. 

The connection between Google’s purchase of Frommer’s and the Dex Media deal? Both companies seek to capture a larger share of the growing ad spend from local advertisers, formerly heavily weighted to print media in the form of yellow page directories and newspaper advertising. The hegemony that print enjoyed for so long has disappeared, and local advertisers continue to move their ad spend to internet search engines, tablets and all forms of mobile apps. How many of those local ad dollars will follow the online content to Google, and others like it, furthering the decline of companies bound to delivering printed directories?

We notice that printers continue to debate the future of QR codes. Are they useful or not? Are they a threat to printers or a technique to help print endure? Frankly, I personally didn’t care or often even notice those little square codes until a recent visit to one of my favorite places, Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, MA. As my wife and I toured the museum, which is housed in the massive former Arnold Print Works (yes – the museum’s many buildings were once home to a textile printer with over 3,000 employees) we entered the wing devoted to the artist Sol LeWitt. There it was on the wall – one of those funny little squares with even smaller squares in three corners and irregular dots. Expecting to be directed to a website, I pointed my iPhone at the QR code and waited. To my surprise, the QR code activated an audio track about the exhibit and the artist. As we moved to each gallery, there was a QR code at the entrance of each, which now predictably activated a download to my phone, to which we listened as we viewed the works of art. So right then and there, the debate was over for me, QR codes are convenient, inexpensive, flexible, and informative. And just in case you’re wondering, there was also a small brochure about the exhibit. Less print, but still there.

Private equity funds were busy in the printing industry again in August. MAI Holdings, affiliated with American Industrial Partners Capital Fund IV, purchased the outstanding stock of one of the printing industry’s innovative equipment manufacturers, Presstek, a company that among things, sells a hybrid offset press with digital plate setters built into the press for onboard plate imaging. The fund clearly sees a bright future for printed products, with Mark Andy, the narrow-web flexo press manufacturer, already in its portfolio. Classic Stripes, the large international provider of fleet marking graphics, acquired Modagraphics of Illinois, with the backing of Navis Capital Partners. Centre Lane Partners, another fund with a printing-related company in its current portfolio, boosted its position in flexible packaging with the acquisition of Oracle Flexible Packaging in Winston-Salem, NC.

Once again, in a repeat of our results in June, we could not find any new Chapter 11 filings of print-related companies. There were several Chapter 7 liquidations, however, all of them very small companies. Notably, three of the closures were franchisee operations, one each for Fastsigns, Minuteman Press and Allegra Print & Imaging.

2012 August - 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


MAI Holdings No Data New York, NY Presstek $120.0 Greenwich, CT 8/23/12 $18.7 Stock purchase Digital offset press mfg. Link
Dex One
(Dex Media)
$1,481 Cary, NC SuperMedia $1,642 New York, NY 8/21/12 $115.0 Merger Yellow page & online ads Link
Classic Stripes No Data Milwaukee, WI Modagraphics No Data Rolling Meadows, IL 8/20/12 No Data Acquisition Fleet, POP, & OEM graphics Link
C2 Imaging $200 St. Paul, MN Superior Imaging Group No Data Seattle, WA 8/17/12 No Data Acquisition Specialty graphics Link
HBP, Inc. No Data Hagerstown, MD Whitmore Print No Data Annapolis, MD  8/17/12 No Data Asset Acquisition Commercial printing Link
Centre Lane Partners No Data New York, NY Oracle Flexible Packaging No Data Winston-Salem, NC 8/15/12 No Data Merger w/ LLFlex Flexible packaging Link
Google $37,905 Mountain View, CA John Wiley & Sons
(Travel assets)
No Data Hoboken, NJ 8/14/12 $23.0 Divestiture Frommer's  guide books Link
Unisource Worldwide No Data Norcross, GA Pakit Sweden No Data Vancouver, CN 8/8/12 No Data Asset Acquisition Molded fiber packaging Link

2012 August - Bankruptcy Filings in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Filing Party

($Mil )

Case #

Filing Party Address


Region & City


Attorney for Debtor

Chapter 11 Filings:
No Chapter 11 Filings Found this Month --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Chapter 7 Filings:
LCN Signs, LLC
(DBA Fastsigns Northwest)
8/29/12 No Data 12-52647 San Antonio, TX 5th Western TX
San Antonio
Leif M. Clark Martin W. Seidler Wide format signs
SME, Inc.
(DBA Allegra Print & Imaging)
8/24/12 No Data 12-33033 Granger, IN 7th Northern IN
(South Bend)
Harry C. Dees, Jr. Debra Voltz-Miller Printing & copying
New Harvest Digital Business Solutions
(DBA Minuteman Press)
8/23/12 No Data 12-12304 Rohnert Park, CA 9th Northern CA
Santa Rosa
Alan Jaroslovsky Myles R. Dresslove Printing & copying
D&H Printing, Inc. 8/20/12 No Data 12-35374 Midlothian, TX 5th Northern TX
Harlin DeWayne Hale David W. Elmquist Printing & copying
Pre & Press Consultants, Inc. 8/17/12 No Data 12-29123 Anaheim, CA 9th Central CA
Meredith A. Jury Bruce Boice Graphics equipment dealer