Heidelberg to acquire MBO Group

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Tuesday 02 October 2018

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Heidelberg is to acquire rival manufacturer MBO Group in a bid to further expand its presence in the digital post-press market.

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The MBO brand will be retained in a “two-brand strategy”

The manufacturer said an agreement to acquire the business, which is valued “in the lower double-digit million euro range”, was signed yesterday (1 October). The sale is due to be completed by the end of 2018, subject to the agreement of the antitrust authorities.

MBO, which had been up for sale, develops high-quality finishing equipment for digital and offset printing as well as for mailing, pharmaceutical and special applications.

Heidelberg said the deal highlights its “strategic focus on consistently aligning its portfolio and new business model with the growth segments of digital and packaging”.

The move will see the company gain access to new customers in the pharmaceutical industry and add mailing system offerings to its offset portfolio. The business also aims to use the extended offering to tap into new customer groups for its entire product portfolio.

“The planned takeover of the MBO Group enables us to attain further sustainable and profitable growth by leveraging new technologies and customer segments,” said Heidelberg chief executive Rainer Hundsdörfer.

“By acquiring MBO’s digital portfolio, we are closing a gap for our customers and helping them achieve a smooth industrial process in the digital future. We also expect to see synergies in our own value-added chain, which will bring about tangible benefits for customers too.”

MBO Group chief executive Thomas Heininger added: "This transaction is a major strategic move for MBO Group to continue driving the process of digitalisation and to further develop our digital print finishing product range.”

Heidelberg will take over MBO’s sites in Oppenweiler and Bielefeld, Germany, and its production site in Perifita, Portugal, which employ a total of around 450 staff.

The manufacturer said the “efficiently structured” site in Portugal “opens up particularly interesting opportunities” for the entire Heidelberg group.

A spokesperson told PrintWeek: “For the time being, at Heidelberg we are sourcing all the components for our folders externally, so we will most probably take advantage of manufacturing in-house going forwards. We could also potentially use the facility to supply our plant in Wiesloch for the sheetfed presses as well.”

The MBO brand will be retained in a “two-brand strategy” along with Heidelberg's Stahlfolder range, the spokesperson said, though specifics are yet to be determined.

As well as its sites in Germany and Portugal, MBO has its own sales companies in the US, France, and China as well as a global network of sales and service partners.

“The existing sales channels will stay the same,” said the Heidelberg spokesperson.

“We are not partners until the deal is closed so we will stay as competitors until we get the final decision from the antitrust authorities.

“But as we are implementing the two-brand strategy going forwards, we will work together to find the best way to sell on the demands of the clients. We have taken over all the existing contracts from MBO and we do not intend to terminate them.”

Friedheim International distributes MBO machinery in the UK and the firm's managing director Mark Bristow said it will be "business as usual".

The deal will add MBO’s circa-€50m (£44.5m) turnover to Heidelberg, which achieved sales of €2.42bn for the 2017/18 financial year ended 31 March, down €104m on the prior year.

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