Archive for February, 2013

  • Issue 566 – 27 February 2013

    The Australian printing industry is taking a tough stance on GEON’s dramatic fall from solvency last week, with fears in the local market that creditors’ debt will be wiped from the print group’s balance sheets if its private equity backers, KKRM, repurchase the company.


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  • Tough talk on zombie-GEON

    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.”

  • GEON – It’s a Pre-Pack! Andy McCourt’s ReVerb

    Shock, emotion, uncertainty, anger and vitriol have reverberated around our industry since the announcement of GEON’s administration followed by receivership. In the midst of this, logic and reality appear to have taken the back seat. Print21’s Andy McCourt (pictured) takes a closer look at the situation.

    The term ‘Pre-Pack’ may not be widely used here but it is well known in the UK, particularly in the printing industry. In simplest of terms, a Pre-Pack administration is one where the directors have already made a deal with the administrators and receivers before placing a company into CVA (Company Voluntary Administration). The deal of course is to buy all or part of the company‘s assets back and continue business under a new name or a slightly changed version of the old name (e.g. XYZ (2013) Pty Ltd).

    Changes in 2002 to UK law, known as the Enterprise Act, made Pre-Packs legally achievable over the more dubious practice of Phoenixing. Predictably, there has been an avalanche of unpopular Pre-Packs since then. Australian law has never embraced the concept of Pre-Packs but there is no doubt the practice exists here in process if not name – click here for details.

    Corporate Law firm DLA Piper notes:

    “Despite all of the impediments outlined above, pre-pack transactions have been successfully implemented in Australia by way of a receivership sale of assets or a restructuring and trade-on through a Deed of Company Arrangement.” The full article can be seen here.

    So, a rose by any other name smells as sweet and it is possible that KKR/Allegro (KKRM) are using gray areas of Australian corporate law to achieve a Pre-Pack outcome at GEON. Incidentally, the M in KKRM stands for ‘McKeller’ after the project name to acquire the distressed debt from Lloyds and BOSI. It’s after our poet Dorothea McKellar, ironically, who wrote ‘My Country’. Insolvency law has been under review by government committees for some time. There appears to be a dire recognition for the need to change, but a distinct lack of strategy and policy to achieve it. See my column from April 2010 here.

    The June 2012 Act known as the Tax Laws Amendments Measures have been reported elsewhere to make illegal ‘Phoenexing’ to avoid PAYG tax and Superannuation Guarantee Levy payment obligations, with directors supposedly personally liable for Tax and SGL. However, first ‘Phoenixing’ must be proven and any country town solicitor would be able to challenge that. All it needs is a new company name and anyway, directors with less than 12 months service are not liable.

    This means, if any of the KKRM executives have taken or will take on directorships of GEON (currently only Samford Maier and Jack Crumlin are listed as directors), they are not liable under the Act. Speaking of Jack Crumlin, he is a partner in Norton Crumlin Associates of North Sydney, who still have the (pictured) proud boast on their website about helping Gresham and GEON. Just how is ‘success’ defined in your world, Jack? Anyway, GEON is being groomed for a Pre-Pack, not Phoenixing because Phoenixing is naughty and possibly illegal.

    Why Pre-Pack? This is the simplest question to answer. It wipes out all debt and yet leaves the assets of the concern in the hands of the former owners for a fresh start. It’s a dream process for the owners, a nightmare for creditors – unless as the owner, you are also the most senior secured creditor and your ‘debt’ suddenly becomes equity in a business with plenty of assets but no liabilities.

    It is still possible that KKRM might be ‘gazumped’ that is that the Receivers might receive a higher offer from a third party and they are legally required to consider all the best outcomes for the business. If this happens, KKRM still win as any proceeds from the sale, less fees, would go to them in majority.

    This is how the growing world of private equity works. The degree of financial and legal sophistication is light years ahead of the average print business owner-operator. Nothing in what is happening in the GEON receivership is illegal, it would appear. Sure, there is moral outrage and gnashing of teeth by unsecured creditors – and understandably so.

    Employees of GEON would have to be the group that is suffering most and what is about to happen is a 2-edged sword. Their only hope of continued employment and perhaps even some of their entitlements such as long service leave and super, is that either the Pre-Pack is successful or a White Knight buyer scoops the company. It’s not a nice space to be in.

    And what of GEON’s customers and long-term contracts? By definition the contracts are voided by the insolvency…they can choose to keep printing with GEON or take their business elsewhere.

    The entire issue is vexed with contradictions and conundrums but this is the price we pay for operating in a free market economy. When it is working well, we praise the system; when it fails, we curse it.

    I expect to see a Pre-Packed GEON emerge within 10-14 days, there are time requirements on the process. Where it goes from there is anyone’s guess.

    Let’s hope the lessons are learned and learned well.

  • GEON back from the dead if the debt goes away

    New owners, investment funds KKR and Allegro, indicate they will keep the business going if the receiver, McGrathNicol, sells it back to them without the debt.

    In a classic phoenix play the investment funds, collectively known as KKRM, want GEON without any major liabilities. They acquired the company from former owner, Gresham, for a supposedly nominal sum after buying the outstanding bank debt of $92 million for an estimated $5 million in a distressed debt sale from Bank of Scotland International (BOSI).

    Presumably this debt is to be extinguished along with others by the process of bankruptcy. Doubts remain as to whether the other debt to be disappeared might include employee benefits such as long service and holiday pay. Trade suppliers are likely to take a jaundiced view if their outstanding bills are also to be wiped. Any default to suppliers from a company the size of GEON would trigger a  tsunami of bad debts that would severely weaken the supply sector.

    Graham Morgan (pictured), GEON CEO, in an internal memo to the employees confirmed that KKRM has made an offer to the receiver, but no details of what it involves are available. He expresses his confidence in the process, identifying KKRM as long-term believers in this business. He describes the offer as reinforcing the positive view KKRM has for the future of GEON. The funds are looking for a speedy take up of their offer.

    He compares the current process as being similar to the default of the other major PE-funded player, Blue Star, which recently was picked up by former owners. In that case the Geoff Selig-led buyout assured all trade creditors their bills would be met.

    Morgan maintains KKRM will retain the current management. They say the distressed state of GEON is because of the capital structure from when the company was set up in 2007 rather than anything that has happened since.

    Update – dateline 13:58 February 22

    IPMG chief executive, Stephen Anstice, is calling on GEON to pay all of its creditors if it is to be re-purchased by KKRM following the McGrathNicol receivership.

    In a statement, released on 22 February, Anstice said:

    “IPMG has been staggered by the reported news surrounding the appointment of receivers to GEON.

    “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.

    “IPMG is considering instituting a policy where we will not support any suppliers who decide to do business with GEON should it re-emerge under the ownership of KKR and Allegro leaving creditors unpaid,” he said.

    Read more about this story here.

  • Get in quick for Pride in Print – deadline 28 February

    The deadline for entries into this year’s Print in Print Awards is almost here, with 28 February marking the final date for late entry contenders to submit their work.

    This year’s premier New Zealand printing industry awards night will be held at Wellington’s TSB Arena – on the waterfront – on 3 May.

    Entries are open to any person or company associated with the production or purchase of New Zealand print. Entries must have been printed in New Zealand between 1 January and 31 December 2012 and can be from any printing process.

    Entries must be received by 5pm on Thursday to be eligible for this year’s Awards. Courier all entries to:

    Unit G, 47 Kenepuru Drive,
    Wellington 5022

    Tickets for this year’s Awards night are now on sale. A ticket order form can be found here, along with information regarding a special accommodation deal with Ibis Hotel Wellington. Tickets are limited, so get in quick to reserve yours!

    Questions or issues regarding the Awards can be directed to Aimee on (04) 237 0482 or

    To enter via fax or mail, download the entry form and post (Pride In Print, PO BOX 50166, Porirua) or fax (04 237 0489) your entry to the team at Pride In Print.

  • Canon awards local business partners

    Canon Business Services Australia awarded its top local business partners in its annual Canon Partner Channel (CPC) awards, held at the Novotel Manly Pacific, Sydney, on 24 February.

    In its twelfth consecutive year, the CPC awards recognise the outstanding achievements, growth, innovation and engagement of Canon’s 55 partners across 70 branches throughout Australia and the Pacific.

    With Guest Speaker, Kevin Sheedy – Australian Rules Football Coach, providing added inspiration, this year the awards welcomed the attendance of Canon’s Large Format Printer (LFP) resellers, Alliance and Océ partners.

    Service Awards - ( L- R) Colin McKinnon, Rodney Pearl, Bill Glenister, Taz Nakamasu (Managing Director, Canon Oceania), Shaun Minogue, Nick Gunner, Peter Ryan, Chris Rowthorne, Brad Thomas (Assistant General Manager, Canon Partner Channel)

    Brad Thomas, Assistant General Manager, Canon Partner Channel said, “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and finalists who we praise for their hard work and commitment to our mutual customers over the past 12 months.

    “The awards showcased the superb talent amongst our business partners who play an integral role as part of Canon’s extended family. Canon continues to nurture and invest in our relationship with our partners now and into the future and looks forward to their continued success over the next year,” he said.

    The 2013 winners include:

    Business Partners of the Year:

    ·         National – Business Technology Specialists

    ·         NSW – BBC Digital Sydney

    ·         VIC/TAS – Business Technology Specialists

    ·         WA/SA/NT – The Boss Shop Office National

    ·         QLD – BBC Digital Sunshine Coast

    ·         Solutions – Gunners Office Equipment

    ·         Large Format – GBC Fordigraph Pty Ltd

    ·         Alliances – Datacom WA

    Achievers Award

    ·         National – Spade Computers & Office Machines

    Length of Service Award

    35 years

    ·         Gunners Office Equipment

    ·         Peat’s Office National

    30 years

    ·         Colourworks Australia – Port Macquarie

    20 years

    ·         Country Copiers Northam

    ·         Copier Support

    ·         Inland Technology

    10 years

    ·         Pirie Office National

    ·         Brilliant Technologies

    ·         Wimmera Office Equipment

    ·         Business Machine Specialists

  • Konica Minolta MFP range wins Buyers Lab award

    Konica Minolta’s A3 MFP range has won the Buyers Lab (BLI) Line of the Year Award for the third year in a row.

    For the third consecutive year, Konica Minolta’s A3 MFP range has been proven best overall for reliability, image quality, ease of use and productivity,  based on the Buyers Lab (BLI) rigorous two month long evaluation.

    “We are very proud of winning this prestigious BLI award again,” said Stevan Caldwell (pictured), national marketing manager at Konica Minolta. “The fact we are the only company to achieve this record in the past decade makes it an even more significant result.”

    Each year Buyers Lab, the leading global provider of information and testing services to the document-imaging industry, acknowledges the vendor whose product line is best, based on a thorough investigation.

    “Konica Minolta is tough to beat,” said George Mikolay, BLI’s senior product editor of A3/Copier MFPs. “The current lineup of A3 MFPs includes 12 products that have earned Pick Awards – more than any other vendor – and 14 products that have received Highly Recommended ratings. It has Picks in in virtually every speed band up to 75 ppm in both colour and black and white.”

    BLI’s Managing Editor, Daria Hoffmann, said, “from top to bottom, Konica Minolta has the best reliability record of all eligible vendors. The fact that Konica Minolta submits the majority of its units for testing as soon as they are introduced shows that it believes in its products and that belief is continually backed up by their performance in the lab.”

    BLI Manager of Laboratory Testing, Pete Emory, said, “whether with its award-winning My Tab for print driver customization, or by being the first manufacturer to offer biometric authentication, Konica Minolta continues to innovate.”

  • Breaking news: GEON goes bust – finally and officially

    GEON goes bust – finally and officially


    GEON’s long-running saga comes to a bitter end, with the embattled print giant finally entering administration after years of financial difficulties and deepening debt.


    GEON Group is now in the hands of administrator and receiver, McGrath Nicol deciding the fate of the company’s 1200 workers in Australia and New Zealand.


    The receivers were called in yesterday afternoon at the insistence of the new owners, KKR Capstone, who took control from Gresham PE last week. The US-based investor fund has dropped the company like a hot potato.


    The sudden end comes after six years of private equity engagement that saw the company shrink dramatically from an estimated $350 million to where it was passed to its current owners earlier this month for practically nothing.


    No statement has been issued as to the destiny of the company and its operations on both sides of the Tasman. According to reports, the company’s employees do not yet know whether it will continue trading either.



    Stay tuned to Print21’s website for further updates on this breaking story.

  • GEON goes bust

    GEON’s long-running saga comes to a bitter end, with the embattled print giant finally entering administration after years of financial difficulties and deepening debt.

    GEON Group is now in the hands of administrator and receiver, McGrath Nicol deciding the fate of the company’s 1200 workers in Australia and New Zealand.

    The receivers were called in yesterday afternoon at the insistence of the new owners, US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), who took control from Gresham PE last week. The US-based investor fund has dropped the company like a hot potato.

    Although local advisory firm, PPB Advisory, was initially appointed as GEON’s administrator, the fate of the company is now in the hands of McGrath Nicol, at the request of KKR and Allegro Funds. McGrath Nicol is embarking on a sales process for the group.

    “We have already commenced a sale process for GEON’s businesses and assets and have received an expression of interest from one party and held discussions with others,” says Shaun Fraser, one of McGrath Nicol’s four appointed GEON receivers and managers. “We have begun the process of stabilising GEON’s operations with the support of key stakeholders, including GEON equity holders KKR and Allegro [KKRM]. This will facilitate a thorough assessment of each of GEON’s business units’ financial position.”

    Although the print group is riddled with debt, it possesses one of the country’s richest collections of state-of-the-art print equipment and, with McGrath Nicol already embarking on a sales process for the company, some of Australia’s other big industry names have been mentioned as potential suitors – with industry sources naming Blue Star as one of the interested parties.

    GEON chief, Graham Morgan.

    Another option on the table for GEON’s future is that KKR with Allegro [KKRM] buy back the printing group. According to latest reports, KKRM has already submitted an offer for the business, in what some commentators are calling a possible ‘phoenix’ manoeuvre.

    The sudden end comes after six years of private equity engagement that saw the company shrink dramatically from an estimated $350 million to where it was passed to its current owners earlier this month for practically nothing.

    KKR and Australian private equity firm, Allegro Funds, took on ownership of GEON earlier this month from Lloyds Banking Group as part of a distressed loan portfolio worth $350 million. According to reports, they paid less than $5 million for the company, and held the right to receive an $80 loan from it in 2015.

    Although the size of the print group’s outstanding debt has not yet been made public, it is clear that it will heavily impact a large number of print industry suppliers in the local market.

    2012 was a tumultuous year for GEON, with the print group losing several of its most prominent employees, including New Zealand executive general manager, Andrew Durrans, head of operations, Roger Kirwan, eastern seaboard general manager, Glen Draper, Scott Thompson, chief operating officer,  and NSW head of sales, Kim Lykissas, among others – many of whom have taken up positions with competing companies like Blue Star and OPUS Group.

    The company copped industry backlash in September 2012 when it moved to slice its labour costs, entering talks with employees with the aim of minimising its outgoing staffing expenses while endeavouring to keep staff numbers steady. Since then, however, the company has seen a long line of employees walk out.

    Update: dateline – 15:58 February 21

    Shaun Fraser, Jason Preston, Murray Smith and James Thackray of McGrathNicol have been appointed Receivers and Managers (“Receivers”) of GEON Australia Pty Ltd and related entities by a secured creditor.

    This appointment occurred after the Directors of GEON appointed PPB Advisory as Voluntary Administrators. Control of GEON’s businesses and assets now rests with the Receivers.

    For further updates on this story, click here.

  • Tim Johnson steps back up for his QuadTech customers

    Less than a week after iconic engineering company, Plunkett and Johnson, went under, one of its principals is back in the game to ensure printers are not left in the lurch. Johnson’s response to the many inquiries from customers, especially web press operators, is to get back into the ring with his new company, TJ Services Australia.

    Despite 18 years operating the service and engineering company he believes there is a still good opportunity and industry need to provide high-end service to the QuadTech press products, especially the ICON controls.

    “I’ve had many calls from worried customers with regards to support of their equipment. I will be working on my own offering service to the printing industry and supporting the current QuadTech customers for both service and spare parts,” he said.

    The current sales agency for QuadTech is still up in the air and the US-based company has emphasized that there is no official sales and service agent in Australia at present. They have dispatched a company service technician from the US in the interim to look after customers.

    There are over 100 QuadTech press colour control, web inspection and register guidance systems in Australia and NZ. Johnson has spent the past few years upgrading many sites to ICON centralized press controls. He wants to ensure that customers are not left stranded with some installations already underway.

    Under the Plunket & Johnson brand in recent times he has installed registration equipment on the Manugraph press at Bundaberg as well as QuadTech ICON technology at the Shepparton News in Victoria.

    He blames the demise of Plunkett and Johnson on the ongoing contraction of the industry, indicating the proposed shutdown of Fairfax’s Chullora and Tullamarine as an example. As the long-term technical director of the company he knows the situation at most of the web press sites around the country.

    “I was always a very hands-on technical director and I did many of the upgrades and installations myself. I’m looking forward to supporting our customers in the future,” he said.

    Contact Tim on 0419 236 347





  • Hunkeler Innovationdays wrap-up – part 2

    Nessan Cleary, respected UK print technology journalist and one of Print21’s valued European contributors, provides the final wrap on this year’s Hunkeler Innovationdays, showcasing the Swiss event’s highlights.

    Innovationdays 2013 draws to a close

    Hunkeler’s Innovationdays has gained an enviable reputation as an unmissable event, used both to showcase practical applications and to launch new equipment. This year’s event lived up to expectations with several new digital presses announced.

    The highlight of the show was probably Xerox’s unexpected showing of the new 8250, a cut sheet system capable of producing some 8250-colour A4 impressions per hour. It has some of the features of the iGen series, but is targeted at transactional rather than graphic arts users and designed to work with uncoated papers. The print quality is adequate for the intended market but it won’t be available for another couple of months.

    Hunkeler launched the first of its POPP8 modules, with this RW8 Rewinder that runs at 305mpm.

    Xerox also showed off a single engine duplex version of its CiPress inkjet printer. It uses a narrow web of just 241mm – with the media being printed on one side, then passing through a turnbar before passing the printheads again to be printed on the other side.

    Kodak announced a new version of its colour Prosper press, the 5000XLi. This will replace the existing 5000 and has a number of improvements, including a new Intelligent Print System, which essentially means multiple inline cameras to monitor the print quality and make adjustments during the run to ensure the prints remain in registration.

    Hunkeler itself launched the first of its new POPP8 systems (pictured) in the shape of the UW8 unwinder paired with the RW8 rewinder. These take rolls up to 762mm wide and 1500kg. They run at speeds up to 305 mpm and use a semi-automatic splicing system for fast roll changes.

    Overall, there was a strong emphasis on short run book production, with everyone from Horizon to Heidelberg showing book finishing lines. There was also a noticeable bias toward the faster inkjet presses and to roll-fed solutions in general. The event seemed even busier than the last time around, with some 5000 visitors and a general atmosphere of purposefulness. But then, that’s what makes the Hunkeler event worth attending.

    To read part 1 of the Hunkeler Innovationdays wrap-up by Naresh Khanna, click here.

  • Hunkeler Innovationdays wrap-up – part 1

    Naresh Khanna, Print21 Independent Media Alliance partner, and publisher of Indian Printer & Publisher, highlights some of the innovations on show at this year’s Hunkeler Innovationdays event in Lucerne, Switzerland.

    New digital print and finishing solutions

    The expanded five-day Hunkeler Innovationdays event in Lucerne started off without much fanfare in its inimitably friendly style. The turnout on the first day looked thin, and Stefan Hunkeler confirmed that the expectations were not for a large increase of visitors over the previous event in 2011. Moreover with the addition of an extra day, he expected the visitor numbers to be more comfortably spread out over the event.

    The next Hunkeler event is in 2015 and there are hints that it could be an even bigger show in that year. Certainly there seems to be support from the exhibitors who find the no-frills presentation of complete solutions without money being spent on decorations to be cost-effective. Even on the first day they were happy with the turnout of customers and potential customers who seem to know what they are looking for and have an understanding what they are looking at.

    What are the innovations in Innovationdays? There are a number of upgrades and new inline finishing equipments at the Hunkeler stand and at those of its OEM’s that address the automation of book block production, direct mail, and increasing the production of complex hybrid products such as a multi-page offset printed mailer that has new images and text that have been personalized on the basis of data mining.

    Hunkeler’s double plow book folder system that was introduced at Innovationdays 2011 and which can take input from printed reels or be positioned in-line to a webfed digital press seems to have matured with real life experience over the past two years. At the Hunkeler stand it is being demonstrated with a robot that can intelligently pick up book blocks for automating even single copy book orders. It can help in the instant and serial production and fulfillment of single orders containing multiple titles with great efficiency.

    Other interesting finishing solutions include the Fastblock lay-flat technology for pasting and binding photo books and coffee table books and a solution from Atlantic Ziesser for short monocartons using an inline rotary diecutter with a flexible magnetic die.

    There are several new digital presses at show or at least upgraded versions of earlier ones including the KBA Rotajet first shown at drupa 2012 and shown running here. Yesterday saw the global launch yesterday of the Kodak Prosper 5000XLi which contains an Intelligent Print System to monitor quality and make adjustments and enhancements on the fly.

    Xerox is showing not only its CiPress based on waterless inks but also its new Colour 8250 Production Printer. The 8250 is positioned so that its capital and running costs are lower than the iGens in order to serve direct mail and transactional markets that do not require the use of paper above 220gsm. Domino is also showing its monochrome book press at the show.

  • Issue 565 – 20 February 2013

    This week’s tense showdown in the APN camp saw the media company’s chief Brett Chenoweth and chairman Peter Hunt tender their resignations, leaving former Fairfax Media chief, Brian McCarthy, favoured to take on Chenoweth’s role as CEO – a move that could see the embattled company finally come to a shared printing scheme with Fairfax or News Limited.


    You’re one of almost 9,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand who rely on Print21 to stay up to date. News is updated on the site every day. Follow us on Twitter to get the news first. If you like this bulletin and you’re an industry professional in ANZ but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, here’s your chance to get a free subscription here.


    Remember, keep those news tips and stories coming in to us here at NEWS. If you like this bulletin but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, here’s your chance to get a free subscription here.

  • Muller Martini showcases new stitcher at Hunkeler Innovationdays trade fair

    Muller Martini showcased its new Presto II Digital saddle stitcher at the Hunkeler Innovationdays trade fair in Lucerne this month, producing three different print products live and without interruption stitcher.

    With high-performance inkjet digital printing establishing itself in the field of high-quality color printing too and sizes of print runs for magazines, journals and brochures continuing to fall, Muller Martini presented the Presto II Digital to trade visitors in Lucerne as a new industrial finishing solution for digitally printed products. Three different products were produced live and without interruption at Muller Martini’s trade fair stand. If necessary, covers could be fed to match a specific copy.

    Muller Martini presented a Presto II Digital line, consisting of a high-performance processing folder, two signature feeders, a cover folder feeder, a stitching machine and a three-knife trimmer, in combination with an unwinding system, a fold/merge module and a cross cutting machine from Hunkeler.

    A Lot of Expertise in a Small Space

    Paul M. Wasanga, CEO of the Kenya National Examination Council, says he is is convinced that “such inline systems are what the market needs.”

    Wasanga considers it “a highly innovative solution that saves on a lot of space.” According to the CEO of the Kenya National Examination Council in Nairobi, who visited the Hunkeler Innovationdays for the first time, the market is in need of precisely such inline systems. “Digital printing alone is not efficient enough – it requires the right finishing for the seamless completion of print products. When I see solutions like the Presto II Digital, I am convinced that there is still potential for digitally printed, saddle-stitched products.”

    There is no question that new printing technologies will be successful, according to Patrick Douglas-Meis of PDM International in Toronto, who made the trip from Canada to attend the trade fair in Lucerne: “Digital printing is growing rapidly, and anyone who isn’t focusing on it will pay for it later – and that time will come earlier than they expect.” The printing expert with many years of experience at large graphic arts businesses believes that the Hunkeler Innovationdays trade fair presented an ideal opportunity to gain an overview of the technical state of the art: “There was a lot of expertise concentrated in a small space, with many decision-makers in attendance, including from abroad.”

    “Saddle Stitching for Digital Printing Will Continue to Gain in Importance”

    That is why Petr Romanov, Chief Technologist at JSC First Model Printing House in Moscow, spent four days at the trade fair in Lucerne: “Unlike drupa, where the entire spectrum of the graphic arts industry is present, at the Hunkeler Innovationdays I specifically studied digital solutions and could take a more detailed look at various machines. Technicians from various manufacturers took their time to explain their systems in detail.”

    JSC First Model Printing House already produces digitally printed hardcover and softcover books on a SigmaLine, consisting of a SigmaFolder and SigmaCollator. The products are finished on a Diamant MC 60 bookline and a Ventura MC book sewing machine from Muller Martini as well as on an older perfect binder. “I came to Lucerne to find out about the options offered by saddle stitching for digital printing, since I’m confident that this market will continue to gain in importance.”

    Quasi Selective Binding

    Dragan Volic, Marketing Director for Print Finishing Systems at Muller Martini, feels that the trade fair has been highly successful: “I’m very satisfied with the high quality of visitors and the great interest in our solution. Muller Martini has clearly confirmed its position as market leader in the finishing of digital print products by expanding its range of digital solutions with a flexible saddle stitcher.”

    According to Adrian Mayr, “many visitors to our stand are surprised by the wide range in the number of digitally printed signatures that can be processed on the Presto II Digital without interruption”. The Muller Martini Product Manager points out that the saddle stitching systems from Muller Martini have attracted a lot of attention, in particular the individual feeding of different covers as well as the feeding of conventionally printed signatures. “With the barcode system (AsirCode), which is used to switch the signatures in and out from product to product, we virtually offered selective binding.” Many customers have also been impressed by the configuration of the saddle stitcher with two length folds. This solution, which is one of a kind on the market, enables a high net output in small sizes (A6) in two-up production.

    Visitors to the trade fair from all over the world were not only interested in the live production at Muller Martini’s stand, but also by the Connex data and process management system presented there. Connex really comes into its own if the saddle stitcher is used as a fully integrated inline solution (digital printing with finishing), as it ensures seamless interplay and optimum control of all aggregates.

  • Kodak launches the Prosper 5000XLi Press

    Kodak Announced the launch of its Prosper 5000XLi Press, the latest family addition to its popular Prosper digital press platform, on 11 February at the Hunkeler Innovationdays industry event in Lucerne, Switzerland.

    The new Prosper 5000XLi combines the field-proven performance of the PROSPER Press Platform with new press management technology that constantly monitors and adjusts settings to ensure the highest quality output.

    At the core of the new press is the Intelligent Print System (IPS), which is designed to process thousands of press inputs that measure imaging performance, detecting variations and making adjustments as needed on the fly. With IPS, the PROSPER 5000XLi Press continuously learns from the input and calculates imaging improvements to deliver measurably higher levels of print quality with industry-leading productivity. This improvement is achieved regardless of varying substrates, image content, web speed, and environmental conditions.

    The PROSPER 5000XLi Press features the fastest, most accurate writing engine on the market. Kodak’s newly formulated nano-particulate pigment inks are matched to the PROSPER 5000XLi Press’s writing system, offering greater durability on coated papers and a color gamut up to 30 percent wider than offset printing. To help ensure crisp, readable output, the press also features a new text enhancement feature.

    Mercury Print, a Rochester, N.Y.-based early adopter of inkjet printing for commercial and book printing applications, has been beta testing the new device.

    “At Mercury Print we strive to deliver products and services that exceed customer expectations and offer outstanding value,” noted Christian Schamberger, President, Mercury Print Productions. “Kodak’s PROSPER 5000XLi Press helps us do just that by providing superior quality, productivity and cost savings every day. This is a press to build and grow a business with.”

    The Intelligent Print System on the PROSPER 5000XLi Press combines in-line video monitoring and advanced software controls to enable real-time adjustments that refine and optimize output color quality. The IPS adds value by tracking and evaluating pages and then making adjustments as needed to the more than 100,000 inkjet nozzles in each system. It includes:

    · an in-line camera system to monitor color-to-color and front-to-back registration

    · automatic or user-selectable stitch adjustments to align printheads and optimize quality

    · multi-parameter monitoring and dynamic adjustment of cross-track, in-track, magnification, and skew performance

    “The PROSPER Press Platform is a high-performance solution for a range of digital printing applications, such as direct marketing, commercial print, and publishing,” said Kodak’s Will Mansfield, Director of Marketing, Inkjet Printing Solutions. “The high speeds and large volumes these presses offer make it more important than ever to ensure the highest performance and quality throughout the print run. Automatic monitoring and on-the-fly adjustment of printing parameters do just that—enabling printers to achieve very high image quality and excellent color-to-color registration on a wide range of media, including glossy.”

    To further maximize uptime and the production of sellable pages, the PROSPER 5000XLi Press features a number of innovations in its transport system that virtually eliminate page imperfections caused by paper stretching and wrinkling. The key advancements include an adaptive web stretch control system that uses advanced servo rollers and software algorithms to make automatic adjustments, as well as select rollers that have ribs and other advanced design features to minimize wrinkling. Additionally, user-adjustable nip settings in four locations help to smooth paper flow and ease press set-up.

    In addition to the new capabilities provided by IPS, the PROSPER 5000XLi Press was engineered and built with a range of other features to optimize print speed, ensure smooth operation, and maximize productivity. These include an auto-adjusting intake system that simplifies changing paper stocks, a variable-length paper path to improve drying, and an advanced drying system that adjusts for ink load, web speed, and substrate.

    “Our engineers are constantly working to improve every aspect of the printing process, and managing the media handling is a big part of that. Customers will see new revenue opportunities from the higher image quality and broader substrate support, while increasing profits with less waste and greater throughput. The PROSPER Press Platform is delivering billions of pages today, and with the latest enhancements, the PROSPER 5000XLi Press is poised to meet the needs of printers as they grow and expand their business,” added Mansfield.

    Helping users further extend substrate options, the in-line KODAK PROSPER Image Optimizer Station (IOS ) automatically prepares commercially available substrates for inkjet printing at full press speeds, enabling users to run industry-standard uncoated, coated—and even glossy coated—papers between 45-300 gsm on roll widths from 8 to 25.5 inches (20.3-64.8 cm).

    The PROSPER 5000XLi Press offers full process color perfecting with a print width of up to 24.5 inches (62.23 centimeters) at speeds up to 650 feet (200 meters) per minute with a duty cycle of 90 million A4 or US letter pages a month. The system is capable of print quality that rivals offset output—up to 175 lpi.

    The PROSPER 5000XLi Press is commercially available today [11 February 2013]. As Kodak has traditionally provided upgrade paths for its presses, the PROSPER 5000XL Press is upgradeable to the XLi, thereby protecting current customer investments.

  • Currie Group kicks off its Colour Roadshow around NZ

    Kiwi printers will be queuing up for the opening of the Currie Colour Roadshow today in Auckland as the industry’s iconic mobile showroom starts its 2nd Middle Earth tour.

    Over the next month the huge brightly coloured pantech will ferry its cargo of high-tech printing equipment around the North and South Islands, bringing the latest digital technology and finishing kit to parts far and wide. Craig Paul pictured), Currie Groups’ new New Zealand manager will be mine host for the scores of industry professionals expected to take advantage of the opportunity to see the latest developments.

    The former Frontline founder is the new face of Currie Group and AM International in New Zealand following the retirement of Ian Wood at Christmas.

    “It was quite fortuitous the way it happened. I was looking for something to do after leaving Aarque when they approached me. I was very pleased to accept,” said Paul.

    The gradual rebranding of the company will see Currie Group New Zealand provide the same level of service and range of products that have made it the largest independent graphic supplier in Australia.

    “We’re very happy to have Craig Paul on board in New Zealand. He is very well known and respected. Customers can be assured of continuity of service from the company. The Roadshow is a visible expression of our commitment to the New Zealand printing industry,” said Phillip Rennell, marketing director, Currie Group.

    The big truck rolled off the trans-Tasman shipping line last week with its cargo intact. The equipment New Zealand printers will be able to inspect up close and personal include:

    • HP Indigo 5600
    • Horizon AFC-566Fg
    • BQ-160PUR binder
    • CRB160 creasing unit
    • PF40 folder
    • SPF-7 booklet maker
    • Ideal 5221-95 EP

    Catch the Currie Group Roadshow at a venue near you on these dates:

    • Auckland: 20-22 February. ASB Showgrounds, 217 Greenlane West.
    • Hamilton: 26 February. Anglesey Motel & Conference Centre. 36 Liverpool St.
    • Rotorua: 1 March. Arawa Park Racecourse, Fenton St.
    • Wellington: 12-13 March. TBA.
    • Christchurch: 18-19 March. TBA.
    • Dunedin: 21 March. TBA.

    To make a booking download the PDF here.

  • Irish are after the scalp of APN’s Brett Chenoweth

    Trading halt in newspaper media company’s shares as its largest shareholder, Ireland-based Independent News & Media, which owns 29 per cent of APN, seeks an extraordinary general meeting to sack managing director, Chenoweth.

    The company suspended trading in its shares until Tuesday as both INM and the second largest shareholder, Australian fund manager, Allan Gray, which owns 19 percent, join forces to stop the company seeking to raise more money. The move comes ahead of APN’s reporting its 2012 results on Thursday.

    In a statement requesting a trading halt APN said it, requests that an immediate trading halt be granted by the Australian Securities Exchange, in light of press reports today regarding comments by Independent News & Media PLC (INM) concerning APN’s CEO and the potential calling of an extraordinary general meeting. APN is investigating these comments, but believes these comments arise from the fact that APN is considering a pro rata capital raising, in respect of which it is being advised by Macquarie Capital (Australia) Limited.

    The non INM representative Directors of APN unanimously support Mr Brett Chenoweth (pictured) and the strategy being implemented under his leadership.

    The UK reports in The Independent newspaper have INM saying its has lost confidence in Mr Chenoweth’s ability to implement the strategic initiatives necessary to reposition APN for the more challenged media landscape that has emerged in Australasia.” Denis O’Brien, Irish telco tycoon and bitter enemy of the O’Reilly family that controlled the Dublin-based company for years, owns 30 percent of INM. Gavin O’Reilly, long-term APN director and chairman of APN left the company in April last year as the family’s shareholding in INM slid to 14 percent.

    “Notwithstanding its market-leading positions, APN has underperformed, as evidenced by a near halving of APN’s interim profits in the period from the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2012,”said the announcement.

    The turmoil comes following reports that APN was in discussions with News Limited about sharing printing presses in Queensland. Similar talks with Fairfax last year petered out. APN has invested in online digital companies in recent times, to the dismay of its largest shareholders.

    It is seeking to raise extra money in a pro rata issue in which it is being advised by Macquarie Capital.