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Tough talk on zombie-GEON

Monday, 25 February 2013
By Patrick Howard

IPMG weighs in on the growing fury in the local industry at the prospect of a debt wipeout by KKRM to bring GEON back from the dead.

Industry outrage is growing at the developments around the appointment of receivers to GEON. Trade suppliers are calling for a new attitude to companies that force them to take a massive debt hit as a means of restructuring. Speaking on condition of anonymity a  number of suppliers told Print21 they are sick and tired of being left holding the bag when printing companies go under.

In a press release, Stephen Anstice (pictured), CEO of IPMG, the second largest printing company in the region, says the company is ‘staggered’ by the developments.

“We cannot conceive how the reported plan of KKR and Allegro to emerge as the new owners of GEON can be allowed without all creditors being paid and have called on the PIA to explore what action can be taken to protect the suppliers and staff of GEON.

 “Many suppliers will be facing bankruptcy as the impact of this receivership is felt throughout the industry and its knock on effects could lead to serious consequences for many other suppliers, staff and customers.”

He said IPMG is considering a policy where it will have nothing to do with suppliers who do business with GEON if it revives under the present ownership arrangements without paying its debts. He has called on Printing Industries to explore what can be done to protect the suppliers and the staff of GEON.

Anstice’s proposal has also been mirrored by trade suppliers themselves, with several of the nation’s major suppliers temporarily ceasing their supply stream to GEON while the print group is in receivership.

IPMG and GEON are both members of Printing Industries. Bill Healey, CEO Printing Industries has met with the receivers and expressed his focus on ensuring fair and proper treatment for GEON suppliers and employees. “I told them I was very conscious of the industry’s frustration at phoenix-style situations and my disappointment if anything like that should happen with GEON,” he said.

At the same time he appealed for the industry to stay calm and see what the proper processes produce.

The Graphic Arts Merchants Association of Australia (GAMAA) is also calling for a calm and measured industry response to the unfolding GEON saga. In a statement published on 25 February, GAMAA said:

“GAMAA as the industry suppliers’ Association, supports the call for calm expressed by Printing Industries (PIAA) CEO Bill Healey.

“Executive Director, Karen Goldsmith said, ‘Any situation where creditors are at risk of non-payment, especially in such large amounts, can have significant flow on effect to the industry as a whole. We hope the right thing will be done by suppliers and employees in this unfortunate situation, however, GAMAA will not make comment on speculative scenarios’.”

“Goldsmith and GAMAA President Adrian Fleming are monitoring the situation and are in communication with the GAMAA membership and the PIAA. The counsel from the GAMAA Executive is to allow due process and both Goldsmith and Fleming intend to meet with the receivers in due course.”

22 Responses to “Tough talk on zombie-GEON”

  1. February 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm,

    Print
    said:

    Pay the creditors and pay the staff their entitlements ,then if there is anything left ,then think about a “Phoenix ” type arrangement .
    This industry is fragile enough with out putting extra pressure on the rest of us (suppliers included)
    The majority of this trade operates by playing within a framework of rules and fair play
    NO ONE RIDES FOR FREE……

  2. February 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm,

    A kiwi printer
    said:

    A kiwi printer i am with you 100% it is about time we all stood up for what is right first blue star now geon it has got to stop ! we all know that B J sucks !

  3. February 25, 2013 at 10:02 am,

    A kiwi printer
    said:

    We should all stand up for what is right, and form an independant printing collective across Australia and New Zealand. We should put a bid in to buy Geon, and if there’s any disposal, we should handle it by placing the print contracts back in the hands of local companies, not equity funds that have no long term, or short term interest in our industry what so ever.
    A word of warning… if Geon are allowed to get back up, we are still in a situation in both Australia and New Zealand where we have far too many presses, for the amount of work that is available, so the problem won’t have gone away, just simply passed down the line to come home to roost in another 3 or 4 months, when a few more very well run companies will be ground into the dirt, by the greed of suppliers and the “too big to fail” approach is applied.

  4. February 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm,

    Inky McFee
    said:

    I could live with the creditors not being paid if the staff entitlements are guaranteed and/or paid in full. There is always inherent risk in doing business, and sadly if you offered terms to Geon, it’s not like you weren’t aware of their situation if you visited trade websites like this one.

  5. February 25, 2013 at 4:21 pm,

    Um OK
    said:

    Im with you on that Inky

  6. February 25, 2013 at 4:21 pm,

    William
    said:

    I can’t see anyone getting any money out of this apart from KKR who picked GEON up after Lloyds dumped it for cents on the dollar. The paper merchants, press makers, ink suppliers and staff will all have to wait in line behind KKR for their money. Who will buy this big loss-making business? I don’t know Graham Morgan but his pronouncements over the last few days that KKR wanted to turn the business around etc. sound very naive to me. KKR just wants its money back + any gains over and above what it paid Lloyds.

  7. February 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm,

    Dick Dotgain
    said:

    Inky, you’re a fount of wisdom usually but we’re talking squillions owed to suppliers here! Have you considered the flow-on effects and redundancies or worse with suppliers who only tried to sell their product and manage their credit policies professionally? Staff come higher up in the creditor list than unsecured suppliers anyway and of course we all want to see them paid in full but I for one can’t ‘live’ with creditors not being paid..even the ATO! We will all suffer one way or another..bloody horrible situation all round. At least the Selligs did the right thing in this regard when they re-acquired BSP in Australia.

  8. February 26, 2013 at 9:48 am,

    Inky McFee
    said:

    Dick, don’t worry – it pains me to think that way, but i the thought of hundreds of employees ending up at Centrelink horrifies me – through no fault of their own, except that they may have worked at one of the many fine businesses that were assembled under the Geon banner and run into the ground. Personally we should be encouraging PMP to bid for the business – i know they have issues of their own, but they used to own a big chunk of Promentum (formerly Penfolds Buscombe) and it would fit nicely in their ‘print only’ strategy. Persuading shareholders or banks to loan them the cash might be a problem though…..

  9. February 26, 2013 at 10:36 am,

    Dick Dotgain
    said:

    I think we’re in violent agreement Inky. The situation at GEON is so dire, no one has an answer that will satisfy everyone. It’s in the hands of McGrath Nichol and ASIC now. Who was it said no matter how much you ‘polish a t*rd’ it’s still what it always was.

  10. February 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm,

    Um OK
    said:

    Interesting how they are asking us to not deal with GEON and not both: GEON and Bluestar… I for one need to keep in the black so will do business with any accounts I can get a hold off. Sure i probably wont get a cent from GEON for work in the past but work now is money now. I’m sorry but we can’t afford to say no. Its easy for you to say lets all not supply them but at the end of the day I need to run a business too. Its not fair and don’t get me wrong I’m pissed off I wont get paid for services rendered but what do you do when your back is against the wall! Make us suffer more so that you can snap up GEON accounts… pfft

  11. February 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm,

    Inky McFee
    said:

    I feel for you Um OK, i know there are a lot of people in the same boat. I won’t criticise you for doing work for the administrator now – ironically you can be sure you will be paid. And Dick, i’m in violent disagreement with myself on this whole issue. It’s no secret I have railed against the PE firms who have destroyed the value in the industry, but either way, it’s the people who are least at fault that pay the penalty. A continuation of business in some form would at least assure many of them of continued employment.

  12. February 26, 2013 at 3:38 pm,

    said:

    This comment was first published in Print 21 a year-and-a-half ago, but it’s still as relevant now…

    https://print21.com.au/seven-tests-for-private-equity-print21-magazine-feature/34834

    James Cryer,
    JDA Print Recruitment

  13. February 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm,

    Vultures
    said:

    This is an awful situation for both suppliers and staff. Surely not dealing with and bringing GEON down will still end in with the same results. Massive loss of jobs and suppliers out of pocket. Why not just continue to supply at higher costs to start gaining at least something back. I’m no expert on this situation, but if this company does come back, I would think it’d be in the best interest of a supplier to make as much money from them as they can going forward.

  14. February 26, 2013 at 10:52 pm,

    said:

    James, before self promoting you should look in your own yard with some of the people you place
    I wonder how many in Geon & Bluestar??

  15. February 27, 2013 at 8:49 am,

    James
    said:

    GEON didn’t really have an option, unlike Blue Star which choose not to pay back Mum and Dad investors’ Bonds.

  16. February 27, 2013 at 9:09 am,

    J.A.
    said:

    Anstice and the other “outraged” parties may not be so outraged if the shoe was on the other foot. Let us not kid ourselves their threat to not deal with suppliers who trade with GEON is nothing more than an attempt to close GEON so they can have a piece of that pie, No concern at all for me and the other 1100 people and there families who will suffer financial hardship for doing nothing more than wanting to work each day.
    I do feel deeply sorry for any suppliers that will suffer as they have bills and workers to pay also but GEON closing is not going to change that now.

  17. February 27, 2013 at 9:26 am,

    Toolboy
    said:

    GEON can only continue with the support of BIG suppliers. These suppliers will always supply BIG companies whatever their financial situation, ALL THEY SEE IS THE TURNOVER. Meanwhile small printers are suffering with unfair, tight credit terms from the same suppliers. There are a number of large suppliers that could prevent GEON from doing a ‘phoenix’ by refusing to supply If suppliers stuck to their principles GEON cannot start up again, but past experience tells me it will. Let’s see if these BIG suppliers have got the fortitude to do this?

  18. February 27, 2013 at 10:44 am,

    Paperman
    said:

    Toolboy, that is the problem, why dont the small to medium printers deal with the independent family run suppliers, in every state there is 2-3 of us that are willing to supply and work with the small to medium printers and most of us have the stock range to compete.

  19. February 27, 2013 at 10:51 am,

    Giddayray
    said:

    We supply to the printing industry. In Australia we chose not to deal with them, The pricing where we needed to be was outrageous concidering the trading terms they were expecting 90+ days. The risk was too great. I have no sympathy to the suppliers who supplied them, except the staff who will possible loose their jobs because of bad management and of couse the staff at Geon themselves.

  20. February 27, 2013 at 11:25 am,

    The Printa
    said:

    Geon is like the Japanese Tsunami, rolled in and left pile of debris everywhere. These my friends are all the suppliers and private companies of which I am one. I will not deal with a GEON supplier ever.
    GAMMA and PIA should grow some balls and tell them to pay up or get out !!

  21. February 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm,

    Half Tone Dot
    said:

    Perhaps we should start to look at Blue Star and how the NZ goverment gave them the the hub print contract in Wellington that tipped up so many good independent firms They then delisted their bonds on the nz stock market and took Kiwis for over $100 million… Funny that?

    Get the contract, delist the bonds, ripe for a take over. GEON are only trying to do what we have already let Blue Star do and our trade will never be as it should be until we make a stand, and the time to stand is now. Kiwi work printed by Kiwi firms or a group that acts in the long term interests of our industry on both sides of the Tasman.

  22. March 04, 2013 at 11:06 am,

    Ruby
    said:

    The printers looking forward to winning extra work released on the market from GEON’s collapse, will be at each others throats slashing prices to complete against each other. They have been too slow raiding sales staff as Bluestar has been there before them and will no doubt do some culling in about 3 months. The smart thing here is to give GEON a chance to survive under new management and so save jobs and suppliers. The united front and market power of the merchants is a threat to all of us, and the threats from people like CEO of IPMG is simply an attempt to get rid of competition.

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