Review of 2019: November
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Our annual roundup of all the big stories around the UK printing industry.
It was a busy month for the Big H. First chairman Siegfried Jaschinski stepped down after four years in the role and 12 on the board. Heidelberg appointed Martin Sonnenschein, partner and managing director at management consultancy AT Kearney, as his replacement. Then UK sales director Jim Todd announced that he would be leaving to “explore other avenues in the printing industry” after having worked for the German press giant for 24 years. The manufacturer also decided to downsize its board as part of a cost-reduction strategy, which will see the departure of Stephan Plenz, a 30-year Heidelberg stalwart. Towards the end of the month, the company sold its Hi-Tech Coatings division to US group Innovative Chemical Products... National World was mulling making a bid for the Telegraph Media Group, according to a report in the Financial Times... Xerox and Fujifilm resolved the major fall-out that began in 2018 and agreed a deal to end their near-60-year-old joint venture. Fujifilm would acquire Xerox’s 25% stake in Fuji Xerox and halt the lawsuit it launched after its proposed takeover of Xerox was stymied by two activist investors... In an 11th-hour contender for Big Story of the Year (Suppliers), Xerox, fresh from its bid for Fujifilm, was plotting to acquire its larger printing industry rival, HP. Xerox reportedly had funding in place for a cash-and-shares bid and HP issued a statement confirming that an approach had been made. Later in the month, Xerox gave HP four weeks to carry out due diligence over its offer. However, HP’s board “unanimously rejected” the takeover offer, stating that it undervalued HP and is not in the best interests of the company’s shareholders. This was when things started to get ugly: Xerox to hit back, pledging to pursue the proposed acquisition and giving HP’s board a deadline of Monday or it will make an offer direct to HP’s shareholders. HP responded to Xerox’s “aggressive words and actions” with some of its own, stating that Xerox had “essentially mortgaged its future for a short-term cash infusion” in its recent deal with Fujifilm to exit the Fuji Xerox joint venture. Xerox then said it would take its takeover proposal directly to HP’s shareholders, saying that HP’s refusal to engage in mutual due diligence “defies logic”... Royal Mail won an injunction to stop a strike by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) over job security and employment conditions. General secretary Dave Ward described the judge’s decision as “farcical” and vowed to fight on... Howard Hunt Group boss Danny Clarke returned to the printing industry with a new executive role at MBA Group where he had been working as a consultant... Fine Print Services acquired Technique Print Group in a bid to create “the biggest, busiest and best equipped commercial printer in Oxfordshire”... Latcham Direct acquired on-demand digital print and creative specialist Accent to strengthen and expand its offering... The announcement of a General Election in December saw political parties ramping up campaigning activity with a wide range of printers benefiting as a result, with printed matter once again playing a key role in getting messages across... Tech-ni-Fold managing director Graham Harris published his second book, Bullied Back to Life, which recounts his experiences of bullying and shares stories from others. It aims to encourage bullying victims to speak out, seek help and find ways to move on with their lives... Jump Design & Print acquired the goodwill, customer list and order book of David Taylor Automedia after attempts to restructure the business failed... Peter Jarrold, the former chairman of historic Norwich print works Jarrold & Sons and printing industry stalwart, died aged 86... Managed office services provider ASL Group acquired Smart Print Technology, a print equipment and consumables supplier... Hot Print Design was prosecuted by Bolton Council for printing fake fabric softener labels... Consumables manufacturer Graphichem bought the assets, IP and goodwill of Edward Marsden... KJB Print’s brochure division WM Printing Solutions was placed into liquidation, while the parent company was bought out of administration... Shares in De La Rue plunged to a 10-year low after the security printer warned that a further deterioration in trading could cast “significant doubt” over its future. The group scrapped its dividend and admitted that it could breach its banking covenants if trading worsened. This prompted union Unite to seek “urgent clarification” on future prospects...