Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Is the Printing Industry Old School or New-Tech Cool? – August 2013 M&A Activity

Old school buys new school. In an interesting twist, printing companies continue to buy leading edge technology companies that may have at first been perceived as threats, but have evolved into complementary services that satisfy the same market need. All-State Legal, which produces that most mundane of printed products, business cards and stationery, purchased the totally cool new-tech company Vizability, which provides online templates for electronic business cards. The electronic cards exist in the cloud and can be delivered electronically to multiple platforms through links, taps, codes and touches. There has been a proliferation of mobile business card apps, with many variations on how the personal contact information is linked to other devices and networks. Vizability’s strategy was to enlist printers of traditional paper stationary products as resellers of its electronic identity system. All-State was reportedly its largest reseller, and is now the owner of the service. It’s a good bet that people will still want printed business cards for years to come, but also will want a sophisticated mobile app that enables easy sharing of information between mobile devices. While the deal itself appears to be small, it’s indicative of a real change. With this acquisition, All-State Legal has moved from a defensive posture as a printer of legacy products to become a leading edge provider of mobile personal identity services. Reminds me of the acquisition by Brown Printing of Nellymoser, and Quad’s launch of its Actable augmented reality app, both of which we described in our review of March ’13 deals. It may be back-to-school for printers, and it appears that some companies are taking all the right classes.

Commercial printers are now fully engaged in the wide format business, exerting pressure on companies that specialized in printing only wide and grand format materials. Pazazz, a printing company in Montreal, Quebec, (and producer of the infamous and viral “Printing’s Alive” videos), acquired Contact Image, also of Montreal. Another commercial printing company, K&M Printing of Schaumberg, Illinois, acquired National GraphX and Imaging. In the past, wide format services could be a real and important differentiator for a commercial printer; wide format now appears to be a “must have” for many in the commercial sector.

In a double-header listing this month, SCICOM Data Services is included on our bankruptcy log and our deal log. The company filed a pre-packaged Chapter 11 proceeding with the bankruptcy court, accompanied by a simultaneous motion to sell itself to Venture Solutions. Venture Solutions, a division of privately held Taylor Corporation, provides transactional communications, by definition relying on variable data printing and e-delivery, to meet the compliance and privacy requirements of insurance, financial, healthcare, utility and telecommunication companies. While we have seen signs of contraction in the “transpromo” sector, as more and more consumers opt for e-delivery of their statements, the underlying need to manage the data and deliver secure documents seems assured; and at least a portion of those documents will be printed. Venture Solutions appears to have made a solid bet that this is a game worth playing.

Could it be that Cenveo is buying its own worst enemy? The company announced late in the month that it has entered an agreement to purchase substantially all of the operating assets of National Envelope which has been operating under the protection of the bankruptcy court. Just three weeks before, Cenveo, in its report of second quarter results, blamed falling revenues on “lower average selling price from our direct envelopes due to our initiatives to gain market share as well as pricing pressures primarily from a competitor now in bankruptcy protection.” The data-intensive trend that supports Venture Solutions’ deeper dive into transpromo processing and printing, combined with the constant pressure on consumers to opt-in for e-delivery of their statements, works against the envelope printing business. Every click that a consumer makes to “save a tree” means one less envelope printed every month, year in and year out.

As we expected, the print management business continues to experience pressure. In a deal that effectively transforms the former print broker, Workflow One, into a real live printing company, the company was acquired by Standard Register in deal that was primarily an assumption of Workflow One’s long term debt. This is the third month in a row that deals have been announced in the print management business, changing the landscape and growth curve in what has been a very disruptive model for commercial printers. I suspect that there are many commercial printers that are not unhappy to see the declining fortunes of the print management firms and that eagerly look forward to the potential to restore their direct relationships with their corporate clients; in effect disintermediating the intermediators.

RR Donnelley continued its downsizing with the closing of the former Von Hoffman book printing facility in Jefferson City, Missouri. The plant reportedly was at one time a world class high volume book manufacturer, covered 700,000 square feet, and still employed 500 as of the closing announcement. Jefferson City is the fifth US printing plant closed by RR Donnelley this year.

2013 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


Shutterfly $700.5 Redwood City, CA R&R Images No Data Phoenix, AZ 8/29/13 No Data Acquisition Stationary products Link
AlphaGraphics of New Bern No Data New Bern, NC Village Graphics No Data Grantsboro, NC 8/22/13 No Data Merger Printing & copying Link
Cenveo $1,760 Stamford, CT National Envelope $300.0 Frisco, TX 8/21/13 $25.0 363 Sale in Ch. 11 Envelope manufacturer Link
Pazazz No Data Montreal, QC Contact Image No Data Montreal, QC 8/16/13 No Data Acquisition
(Macquarie Capital)
Wide format printing Link
Think Patented No Data Miamisburg, OH Miller Printing No Data Springfield, OH 8/8/13 No Data Acquisition Commercial printing Link
All State Legal No Data Cranford, NJ Vizability No Data New York, NY 8/7/13 No Data Acquisition Stationary products Link
K&M Printing No Data Schaumburg, IL National GraphX and Imaging $1.5 Franklin Park, IL 8/7/13 No Data Acquisition Wide format printing Link
Venture Solutions
(Sub. of Taylor Corp.)
No Data Arden Hills, MN SCICOM Data Services No Data Minnetonka, MN 8/6/13 No Data 363 Sale in Ch. 11 Transactional communications Link
Safeguard No Data Dallas, TX Innovative Print & Media No Data Phoenixville, PA 8/6/13 No Data Acquisition Commercial printing Link
Provident Group
(Sub. of Anderson & Vreeland)
No Data Bryan, OH Custom Flex No Data Appleton, WI 8/5/13 No Data Acquisition Gravure doctor blades Link
Jeff Bezos $66,850 Seattle, WA Washington Post
Newspaper Division
$581.7 Washington, DC 8/5/13 $250.0 Acquisition Newspaper Link
John W. Henry No Data Boston, MA Boston Globe
(Div. New York Times)
$1,980 New York, NY 8/3/13 $70.0 Acquisition Newspapers Link
Standard Register $567.7 Dayton, OH Workflow One No Data Dayton, OH 8/1/13 $218.0 Acquisition
(BofA ML)
Print management Link

2013 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:
SCICOM Data Services, Ltd.  8/6/13 No Data 13-43894 Minnetonka, MN 8th Minnesota
Michael E. Ridgway James L. Baillie Transactional communications
Labels Unlimite, Inc. 8/1/13 No Data 13-06318 Bayamon, PR 1st Puerto Rico
San Juan
Mildred Caban Flores Carmen D Conde Torres Label printing
Chapter 7 Filings:
Garland Converting Corporation 8/29/13 No Data 13-34561 Broadview, IL  7th Northern IL
Pamela S. Hollis Joel A. Schechter Diecutting & Finishing
Chapel Hill Printing & Graphics, Inc. 8/27/13 No Data 13-81075 Chapel Hill, NC 4th Middle NC
William L. Stocks James C. White Printing & copying
Coachella Valley Printing Group Inc 8/22/13 No Data 13-24250 Indio, CA 9th Central CA
Wayne E. Johnson William J. Howell Commercial printing
Plastic Card Solutions, Inc. 8/2/13 No Data 13-07943 San Diego, CA 9th Southern CA
San Diego
Margaret M. Mann Craig E. Dwyer  Plastic card printing

2013 August - 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


RR Donnelley  - Printing Facility Oct-13 No Data Jefferson City, MO RR Donnelley Chicago, IL 8/1/13 Formerly a Von Hoffman location Link