Gallus to become wholly-owned by Heidelberg

Heidelberg is taking 100% ownership of Gallus in a deal that will see Gallus owner Ferdinand Rüesch become Heidelberg’s largest single shareholder.

Heidelberg acquired a 30% stake in family-owned Gallus in 1999, and part of the deal included the option to eventually buy the rest of the label and packaging press specialist.

It has now agreed a deal with Gallus owner Ferdinand Rüesch AG, which will swap its 70% stake in Gallus for new shares in Heidelberg, taking a 9% stake in the press manufacturer as a result.

The deal also includes an unspecified cash payment of less than €10m (£8.1m).

The new Heidelberg shares will have a face value of at least €2.70 depending on the finalisation of the deal. Heidelberg’s existing shares slipped slightly on the news, by 1.19%, to €2.57.

Switzerland-headquartered Gallus had sales of CHF188m (£125m) last year, and employs around 500 staff worldwide.

Its product range includes label presses, folding carton presses, and rotary screen printing systems.

As part of Heidelberg’s fresh push into the digital printing market the two companies are working on a hybrid conventional/inkjet label press based on the Gallus ECS340 platform, which is set to be shown for the first time this autumn.

At Heidelberg’s recent briefing on its plans for inkjet, chief executive had Gerold Linzbach had reiterated the group’s plan to take control of Gallus. He said: “We are completely consolidating the company and are in discussions how this is going to pan out, including detailed profit sharing models.”

In a statement accompanying the Gallus announcement, Linzbach said he was “very proud” to have Ferdinand Rüesch as an investor. “The full acquisition of Gallus will further enhance the cooperation of the two companies. Together, we will continue to foster the development in the growing market for digital label production.”

The Gallus deal is expected to be formally completed next month, subject to approval by the relevant authorities.

The new shares will increase Heidelberg’s equity ratio and, together with its recent return to the black, pave the way for the “profit focused alignment of our portfolio and the steps required in this context,” said chief financial officer Dirk Kaliebe.