End of an era as Heidelberg sells PMA

Jo Francis
Tuesday, February 2, 2021

It’s the end of an era for Heidelberg, which has sold its landmark Print Media Academy building in the heart of the German town as part of its ongoing series of asset sales and disposals.

S-Printing Horse sculpture with PMA shown behind
S-Printing Horse sculpture with PMA shown behind

The Print Media Academy (PMA) was a high-profile project under then-Heidelberg CEO Hartmut Mehdorn, and was built to mark Heidelberg’s 150th anniversary. It was officially opened in April 2000 by Germany’s federal chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

At Drupa the same year, Heidelberg booked €1.5bn-worth of orders, the equivalent of around £1bn at the time.

Heidelberg is selling the building to a Luxembourg investment company for an amount in the “low double-digit million euro”. The likely proceeds from the deal have not been disclosed.

Heidelberg had already relocated the majority of employees who had worked in Heidelberg itself to its main Wiesloch/Walldorf facility.

The manufacturer will retain its HQ and registered office in a rented floor at the PMA.

CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer said the proceeds would “once again strengthen our liquidity in the persistently challenging Covid 19 environment” and the disposal would result in future cost savings.

He described the sale as “the next logical step” on Heidelberg’s agenda, but was mindful of the symbolic impact of the move for the local community.

“We are aware that the sale has a signal effect: however, we will remain closely connected to the city as well as the region in the future,” he stated.

“At the same time, we are convinced that the change of ownership will open up new, diverse perspectives for the city and the local people.”

The 50-metre high, 12-storey building has a number of striking architectural features and is one of the tallest buildings in Heidelberg. It is located opposite the main train station and has a range of rooms and spaces, including an auditorium, that can be hired out for events and conferences, as well as a luxe restaurant on the top floor with spectacular views.

The PMA has a transparent façade and its design was described as being “full of metaphors and symbols alluding to printing processes and the history of printing”.

The 13-metre high ‘S-Printing Horse’ sculpture on the forecourt weighs 90 tonnes and was designed by artist Jürgen Goertz.

Events at the building are currently on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shares in Heidelberg slipped slightly on the news to €1.12 this morning, following the steep fall yesterday after its intended sale of Gallus falling through.

Since summer 2020 Heidelberg has sold its CERM narrow web MIS business; agreed a joint venture production deal in China with Masterwork Machinery; sold its Belgian production site to Druck Chemie; and sold off part of its Wiesloch/Walldorf site for redevelopment

The €120m Gallus sale was also agreed last summer, but failed to complete at the eleventh-hour

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