Agfa Graphics to acquire the offset plate business of Ipagsa

Agfa Graphics

On 4 September 2018, Agfa Graphics announced that it intends to acquire the prepress business of the privately-owned Spanish printing plate supplier Ipagsa Industrial S.L.

The transaction excludes the printing plate manufacturing activities in Barcelona, Spain, which are likely to be shut down according but includes the IPAGSA plant in China. The company’s press release states that the printing plate volumes to be acquired will be partly integrated in Agfa’s global manufacturing network and partly procured from third-party suppliers. It is expected that in 2019, this acquisition will contribute up to EUR 30 million to Agfa Graphics’ top line with a double-digit EBITDA.

“This acquisition is another step in our strategy for profitable growth. Next to a significant increase of our prepress top line, the acquisition will also help Agfa achieve its EBITDA target of 10% in average over the next few years. Ipagsa’s experienced team will continue to operate under its own brand as a separate entity, managed by its current owner, Lorenzo Ferrari,” says Stefaan Vanhooren, president of Agfa Graphics.

The China and India strategy

Consolidation and strategic alliances, which are often a precursor to consolidation among print equipment and consumable suppliers, continue apace. At the end of August, Agfa announced a strategic alliance agreement with Chinese offset plate manufacturer Lucky HuaGuang Graphics. Under the intended collaboration, Lucky HuaGuang Graphics will provide manufacturing capacity for printing plates in Nanyang, China, with Agfa Graphics’ support and using Agfa Graphics’ high-end technology and intellectual property to manufacture products for Agfa.

Apparently, Ipagsa plates will be separately branded and sold to more price-sensitive markets while the premium segment plates will be branded as Agfa Graphics plates. It is not clear how this will impact the Indian market or whether the Ipagsa plates will be made at the IPAGSA plant in China or by Agfa’s strategic ally in China, Lucky HuaGang or even by TechNova in India. Agfa’s strong licensee manufacturer and distributor TechNova is based in the Mumbai region and dominates the Indian offset plate market with no significant local manufacturing competition. Since the Agfa press release states that the Ipagsa plate manufacture will be integrated in the company’s global network, it is possible that these could be manufactured by TechNova at some point. Watch this space.

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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