Manroland web division bought out, MBO expected in sheetfed

Possehl Group, an 8,600-staff, €1.7bn-turnover corporation, has been revealed as the buyer for the Augsburg plant.

The deal will save 1,500 of the 2,200 staff at Augsburg, which manufactures Manroland’s leading range of web presses for the newspaper, magazine and catalogue industries.

The takeover by Possehl is seen as a stable offer that will protect the future of the web division – Manroland’s most profitable unit.

Manroland Australasia managing director Steve Dunwell called Possehl “a super company”.

“They acquire companies to run them and keep them running, and make a profit from them this year and in the years ahead. So that goes very well for all our web customers. It is much better than being purchased by an equity investment company,” he told ProPrint.

Meanwhile, it seems there will be management buyouts at the sheetfed manufacturing site in Offenbach and the assembly operation in Plauen, with government support, however, Dunwell was still waiting on “a bit more clarity” around this.

“Exactly what that means for Manroland Australasia will get clarified in the next week or so. There will be two separate entities [web and sheetfed]; it could be that one owns us and we represent the other one.

“The likely scenario is that web owns us and we represent the sheetfed and we will keep our engineering and support base intact here,” he said.

Dunwell said that Possehl has committed to giving work to the Plauen plant, which manufactures components for Manroland’s web and sheetfed presses as well as doing third-party work.

However, there are expected to be significant redundancies in Germany, with reports suggesting up to 2,200 jobs will be cut from the 4,700 employed before the insolvency.

Dunwell said the measures were necessary to get the company in the right shape for the market conditions. “In the form they will end up very soon, the businesses will be good viable businesses, but they have had to let people go given the levels of business.

“The [fall in the] level of business from four years to now has been more dramatic than anyone could budget or plan for so we got caught, but the businesses will be good businesses.”

On how the move would affect the local operation, Dunwell added: “I will probably need to streamline a bit to make sure my business is good and solid and profitable.”

The news follows yesterday’s announcement that rival Heidelberg will cut 2,000 jobs worldwide in a bid to improve profitability.

Manroland filed for insolvency last November.

Possible suitors linked to either all or part of Manroland had included Shanghai Electric, which bought web press maker Goss International in 2009, and Platinum Equity, the US-based investment firm whose acquisition track record includes desktop publishing developer Quark and Kodak’s image sensor division.

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