Axélero acquires Atex Group for Euro 6.7 million

Axélero acquires Atex Group for Euro 6.7 million
Leading Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi uses Atex software

Axélero SpA signed a binding agreement for the acquisition of the venerable publishing systems software provider Atex Group for a sum of Euro 6.7 million on 22 June 2017. Axélero has also acquired Atex Group subsidiaries in Italy, France, Sweden, the UK, Finland, Australia, Singapore and the US. The acquisition of Atex is said to be strategic for Axélero as a major step towards growth and international expansion with entry into new geographic areas and new business segments.

Axélero SpA is an Italy-based company engaged in the digital advertising, Web marketing and digital communications. Apart from promoting online business through design and development of editorial products and digital communication solutions, Axelero develops brands and proprietary products through vertical portals or dedicated websites as well turnkey services such as eCommerce. The combined entity hopes to leverage a combination of content generation, data, and advertising management.

The Atex Group headquartered in the UK has approximately 200 publishing clients in Europe (Italy, UK, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic and Nordics), Canada and the USA, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Its customers in India are the newspaper and magazine publishers ABP based in West Bengal and Mathrubhumi based in Kerala. KGS is the distributor in India.

The combined entity will leverage Axélero’s innovation capabilities and Atex’ pioneering expertise in publishing software to speed up the development of a ‘cloud journalism’ platform for the publishing sector. At the same time, Axélero will leverage Atex’ technology assets to strengthen the enterprise-level solutions of its Executive Division. Atex’s technology and know-how will also be adapted to meet the specific requirements of the small and medium enterprises that represent Axélero’s core market.

According to Axélero it was about twice the size of Atex before the acquistion. With Atex’ consolidated revenues of Euro 19 million and a cash positive EBITDA of Euro 1. 7 million Euros in 2016, the aggregated revenue of the two companies would have been Euro 65 million. Axélero says it expects ‘significant cost and revenue synergies’ from the acquisition, with positive effect on margins. Of the purchase price, Euro 6 million will come from bank loans, with the balance to be held in escrow for 12 months.

A new Italian subsidiary, Atex International srl, will acquire the share capital of Atex Global Media srl (Italy), Atex Global Media sàrl (France), Atex Holdings Sweden AB (Sweden), Atex Media Ltd (England), Atex Media OY (Finland), Atex Pty Ltd (Australia), Atex Pte Ltd (Singapore) and Atex IMC Inc (USA). The share and purchase agreement at a price established as 2.8 times Atex’s 2016 EBITDA was signed by Kistefos International Equity, which owned Atex Group Limited outright. Atex is free of financial debt and has about 2 million Euros available cash.

Atex was founded in 1973 by three MIT students Douglas Drane, Charles Ying and Richard Ying who developed a counting or hyphenation algorithm running on a J11 chip that was subsequently incorporated in their RDBMS editorial systems running on DEC PDP-11 computers. Living Media, publishers of India Today were the first Atex customers in India in the early 1980’s. The company was acquired by Kodak and divested to Systdeco in the 1990s and eventually sold to the Kistefos. Atex Media Solutions acquired Swedish CMS company Polpoly in 2008.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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