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Heidelberg takeover of MBO blocked

Wednesday, 08 May 2019
By Wayne Robinson

Deal off: Heidleberg blocked from MBO purchase

Heidelberg‘s bid to buy rival finishing equipment manufacturer MBO has been blocked by the German anti-trust authorities, on the grounds that it would create a ‘dominant position’.

The deal was inked last October with purchase expected to be completed by the end of the year, but the German Federal Cartel Office was by then into a lengthy investigation, which has now resulted in it preventing the acquisition.

The Cartel Office said the deal would take out one of the four folding systems companies on the European market, and would impede competition.

The two companies will now continue as separate entities. MBO is best known for its folders. It is supplied in Australia and New Zealand by Print & Pack. MBO also owns Heymann + Herzog. It says it has seen growth outstripping the market this year, and that its turnaround strategy has been achieved ahead of schedule.

“We take note of the decision with regret and are moving on, even though we see the future market position of the combined companies differently,” commented Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer.

Even though the takeover of the MBO Group is not going ahead, Heidelberg says it will continue to pursue its strategy of further developing its postpress portfolio in the direction of industrial-scale postpress operations. This includes the successful positioning of the Stahlfolder TH / KH series folding machines, especially the patented high-performance P-class. Heidelberg is also investing in a new way of improving transparency in postpress production control for all products.

In parallel to this, the company is systematically aligning new business models with the growth segments of digital and packaging and tapping into new customer groups for its entire product range. This applies in particular to the segments of digital postpress and postpress for folding cartons and the associated inserts and outserts used in the pharmaceutical sector.

It is also underlined by the company’s collaboration with the Chinese postpress specialist Masterwork Group, which was expanded with a capital measure in March – it is now Heidelberg’s biggest shareholder – and is designed to open up further potential on the growing packaging market.

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