Walstead buys St Ives web operations in 20m deal

Jo Francis
Monday, March 14, 2011

Wyndeham owner Walstead Investments is buying St Ives' web division - catapulting the group into a market-leading position in UK web offset.

The deal was announced this morning.

Walstead will pay £20m for St Ives’ three magazine plants comprising the Peterborough, Roche and Plymouth factories. The Bradford-based Direct operation is not included in the transaction.

Walstead is paying £15m in cash, with a £5m deferred payment over two years. Funding has been provided by The Royal Bank of Scotland.

The St Ives facilities employ around 670 staff, and made a £5.1m pre-tax loss on sales of £70.5m last year. Gross assets are £54.8m, including properties which are not included in the sale price. St Ives will lease the sites to Walstead.

Key customers include The Economist Group, Condé Nast and the Financial Times.

Once the deal is completed Walstead’s turnover will jump to £170m. Director Stephen Hargrave said: "Someone had to make a move like this, no-one else was going to, and we’re glad we’re the ones to have done it.

"We’re totally focused on this market and determined to make a go of it."

This is Walstead’s fourth acquisition since it bought Wyndeham Press Group at the end of 2008, subsequently purchasing Southernprint and most recently Apple Web Offset. The St Ives plants will be rebranded as Wyndeham.

The acquisition is subject to approval by St Ives' shareholders, and the group will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting early next month to rubber-stamp the transaction.

St Ives chief executive Patrick Martell said: "It’s a good deal for both parties."

St Ives will announce its interim results tomorrow (15 March).

More on this story, including industry reaction, in this week’s PrintWeek.

St Ives share price jumped by 10.75p, almost 11%, to 109.75p this morning.


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