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Chinese to buy strategic stake in Heidelberg

Friday, 25 January 2019
By Patrick Howard

Leading press manufacturer welcomes the support of Masterwork Group, China’s largest manufacturer of die-cutters and hot-foil embossing machines. Based in the Chinese city of Tianjin, long-standing strategic partner Masterwork is set to get 8.5 percent of Heidelberg under a cash injection.

The proposed capital increase will make Masterwork a strategic anchor shareholder with a long-term investment horizon. Gallus under Ferd Rüesch became the first anchor shareholder when the family-owned label press manufacturer was folded into the German press company in 2014.

Subject to approval by the relevant bodies on both sides and the Chinese authorities, the deal will take place by the end of the first calendar quarter of 2019. The issue price of the new shares is set to be EUR 2.68. If the market price significantly outstrips the envisaged issue price, this will be renegotiated in line with statutory requirements.

Heidelberg will use the extra money to accelerate its digital agenda and for general business financing. Heidelberg believes Masterwork supports its digital strategy and is demonstrating clear commitment to long-term collaboration. It is currently considering and discussing whether it will seek to obtain a shareholding in Masterwork, which is listed on China’s Shenzhen stock exchange.

According to Heidelberg CEO,Rainer Hundsdörfer, (pictured) the deal will open up further potential in the growing packaging printing segment, especially in China – the world’s largest individual market. “We are expecting better capacity utilisation at our plants across the globe to make us far more efficient, but I would like to stress that this will not weaken our sites in Germany. We are delighted that in Masterwork we are obtaining another long-term investor that firmly believes in the company’s innovative prowess, strategy, and potential for the future.”

Masterwork President Li Li was equally upbeat. “Heidelberg is our ideal partner for jointly leveraging growth potential in the packaging printing market. The stake we are obtaining in this long-established company and world market leader underlines that we are in it for the long haul and are confident Heidelberg has adopted the right strategy.”

The two companies have had a close manufacturing and sales partnership for a number of years since Masterwork acquired the Heidelberg’s postpress packaging technologies in 2014. Packaging printing is expected to enjoy above-average growth in the coming years. Heidelberg already holds a strong position in this segment in Europe and the Americas. Masterwork is one of China’s leading postpress suppliers for packaging.

Heidelberg will continue to supply markets in China and the rest of Asia from the site in Qingpu, near Shanghai, that it established back in 2006. It says that as a result of the closer working relationship, it will also benefit from joint component manufacturing operations at the Masterwork site in Tianjin in the future.

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