Market reacts to Heidelberg-Gallus situation

Jo Francis
Monday, February 1, 2021

Heidelberg’s share price fell by more than 14% as the stock market reacted to the news that its deal to sell Gallus had fallen through.

“Gallus will remain with Heidelberg and nothing will change for Gallus customers."
“Gallus will remain with Heidelberg and nothing will change for Gallus customers."

In a shock announcement on Friday evening (29 January), after the close of trading on Germany’s DAX exchange, Heidelberg said that the €120m (£106m) sale of the label press manufacturer to Benpac Holding did not complete.

Today (1 February) Heidelberg’s shares were down 14.6% at €1.11 in early trading. The price then recovered slightly to €1.15.

Towards the end of last year Heidelberg’s share price had risen sharply to a new 52-week high of €1.39 (low: €0.47).

Heidelberg had expected to make a gain of around €50m on the deal.

Now the group has a hole in its planned finances, and is retaining the 430 Gallus staff and five sites that would have transferred had the sale completed.

At the time of writing Benpac Holding had not commented or issued a statement about why it failed to complete the deal as expected.

The privately-owned Switzerland-headquartered group has grown on the back of a string of acquisitions under the leadership of founder and CEO Marco Corvi.

In December, Bote, a regional newspaper in Switzerland, reported that two Benpac directors, and the group’s auditors, had stepped down.

Former Heidelberg chief technology officer Stephan Plenz was one of the directors who resigned. Although Plenz was listed on the official register of Benpac directors from July until November, Printweek understands that he was not actively involved with the business during the period and no meetings took place before he decided to step down.

Plenz is now focused on his independent consultancy business, where he is working for a number of industry manufacturers.

Amid speculation about whether or not Heidelberg would now try to find a new buyer for Gallus, the group moved to reassure staff and customers about the situation and said that Gallus had made “good operational progress” in 2020 “in its new, independent setup under the Heidelberg umbrella”.

Heidelberg told customers that “nothing will change”.

“Gallus will remain with Heidelberg and nothing will change for Gallus customers. The existing supply and service contracts will continue to apply unchanged, and the personal contacts will remain the same. Gallus will remain a high-performance, reliable partner for its customers in the future.

“Gallus has successfully focused on the needs of its customers in the flexographic printing market – and has continued to develop its product and service portfolio in a concentrated manner,” a Heidelberg spokesperson said.

Next month Gallus will also run ‘High Performance Days’ to showcase its latest innovations. The event takes place on 3-4 March.

The Gallus product range encompasses flexo label printing presses, including the hybrid inkjet Labelfire, as well as specialist screen printing equipment. 

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