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Big Belgium prepress pair in AUD$288m partnership

Wednesday, 15 August 2007
By Print 21 Online Article

The complex private-equity fuelled merger will create a powerhouse in the specialised field where the two companies now play a leading role. When the deal is done the enlarged Esko will have a workforce of close to 1,000 professionals, with offices in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. Esko is fully owned since October 2005 by Axel, a leading Danish private equity company.

Both Esko and Artwork Systems currently have a presence in Australia and New Zealand with well-known industry identity, Peter Henderson, representing Esko from Melbourne.

According to a joint press release the strategic rationale for the transaction is founded upon a better utilization of each company�s complementary strengths in the packaging and commercial printing market segments, expert sales and support channels and global customer bases.

The mechanics of the deal will see the three founders of Artwork Systems sell their shares, which represent 76.69 per cent of the company, to Esko today, August 9. Esko will then make a public offer for the remaining shares. The deal values Artwork Systems at AUD $314m. During fiscal year 2006, the company had a turnover of $74.5m (EUR 46.48 million).

Carsten Knudsen, who is currently the CEO of Esko-Graphics, will become the ceo of the combined group. He called the merger �a significant milestone in the consolidation of suppliers to the printing and publishing industry.�

Guido Van der Schueren, who is currently the chairman of the board of directors of Artwork Systems Group, will become the chief commercial officer leading the new group�s integrated marketing and sales operations.

�Our combined portfolio of products and services offers appropriate solutions for virtually any customer in packaging, commercial printing and office/business publishing. Bringing together our expertise and innovative strength opens up significant growth opportunities for our customers and employees alike,� said Van der Schueren.

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