Todiscos out, Aboughattas and Wu in: mega merger closes

Docklands and Ability Press have pulled off the $50m Melbourne mega merger with the deal closed, the Todsicos gone and presses humming in Port Melbourne.

Today is day two of the merged operation renamed Docklands Ability Group (DAG), having in July agreed to join forces and buy Mercedes Waratah and M&M Binders.

Moody Aboughattas and Michael Wu are joint owners of the group and are now on the floor running the operation with the combined client base of the three companies.

Aboughattas tells ProPrint that Docklands will be out of its Heidelberg West facility by the end of the year with kit to move over in the next 2-3 weeks, and the business will have about 100 staff.

“It is a very busy time of year for us, so we just have to get through that before we move all the equipment across, but it will be very soon,” he says.

[Related: More mergers and acquisitions]

The three companies had a combined staff of 150 and Aboughattas says there have been some redundancies plus numerous staff unwilling to travel from far away parts of the city.

Former Mercedes Waratah directors Michael and Lenny Todisco will not be sticking around to help with the transition and left before yesterday when the new owners moved in.

The equipment moving from Docklands is an eight-colour Komori Lithrone offset press plus several finishing pieces, with the rest to be sold off to equipment dealers.

Michael Wu will move a Kodak Nexpress and HP Indigo in from Ability but the rest will be sold. Wu will also move in ‘a section but not all’ of On Demand.

ProPrint understands the On Demand move will happen in November though how Wu plans to resolve the lease situation is still unclear.

Aboughattas says Docklands Ability will run 24/7 and be a much more productive business than it was as Mercedes Waratah.

“We have bought a great operation here, the presses are great and just chew through work so long as you keep feeding them,” he says.

“The setup was so underutilised before and now with all our clients we will be able to keep the presses running all days. All we have to do is hold onto the work.”

Aboughattas says the setup is far better than anything either he or Wu ever had and will allow them to run higher margin jobs using UV and other specialised processes.

“Printing is very competitive these days, there is too much capacity and not enough margin, so consolidation like this is necessary and I think you will keep seeing it,” he says.

[Related: Doing deals]

Aboughattas says he and Wu will run the operation together despite having just met when the speedy negotiations began. It was all over in a quick handshake deal in the Mercedes Waratah boardroom.

“If you want to do something, just do it, don’t spend time messing around talking about it for too long,” he says.

The deal is financed by the Todiscos themselves and Wu and Aboughattas will pay them back in what he says is a flexible payment arrangement depending on how well the business performs.

Joining together three established businesses leaves a huge amount of surplus kit which is already being snapped up or put up for auction.

Docklands neighbour Marvel Bookbinding bought the entire hard case equipment lines, worth $4-5m new, from both companies while a swathe of Ability kit goes under the hammer next week.

The Ability auction will be held 11am next Thursday September 10 at the company’s 25-27 Olive Grove, Keysborough facility, run by National Auctioneers & Valuers.

Kit up for bidding includes a Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 six-colour press with coater, three Polar guillotines, four Heidelberg and on Horizon stitching lines, four folders, a perfect binder, a forklift and delivery truck, and $100,000 worth of paper.

National Auctioneers’ Peter Brand says the equipment, stock and factory gear is worth about $500,000 all up.

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