Flint Group up for sale since late 2019

Debt refinancing in next two weeks seen as a precondition to sale process

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Flint Group ink manufacturing plant in Savli, Vadodara
Flint Group ink manufacturing plant in Savli, Vadodara

A Reuters report on 27 May 2021 said that the Flint Group is nearing the completion of a debt refinancing deal seen as a precondition for selling the company, a process initiated in late 2019. However, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the sales process. Goldman Sachs’ private equity arm and Koch Equity Development, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, are the current owners.

Flint Group EBITDA data during the pandemic

Flint Group has seen its sales decrease in the past 17 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, and guesstimates of its 2020 EBITDA vary from Euro 200 million to Euro 220 million. The group’s EBITDA was Euro 266 million in 2019. It is negotiating with lenders to restructure or amend its financing of Euro 1.7 billion in the next few weeks for perhaps another two years at slightly better rates.

The former US-based Flint Ink became the second-largest printing ink maker globally in 2005 when it merged with XSYS Print Solutions, created in 2004 by combining the ink units of BASF and Akzo Nobel Inks. The larger merger was renamed the Flint Group, with headquarters in Luxembourg.

In 2007 Flint Group acquired Day International, a pressroom consumable supplier. Goldman Sachs private equity and Koch Industries acquired the group in 2014 at a reported valuation exceeding Euro 2.2 billion.

Even before the merger, Flint Inks had grown in North America by acquiring smaller ink companies. It had started a digital inkjet press development group that it sold to EFI when the global ink merger took place. Later, it went on to acquire Xeikon, which manufactures digital presses and flexo plate equipment.

Flint also manufactures polymer plates for flexography, and it became equipment, plate, and ink supplier to that segment of the label and packaging industry. Ironically in January 2021, the group revived the XSYS branding for its flexo plates, sleeves, and exposing systems.

It is reported that the bulk of the group’s profit comes from the packaging industry and the rest from ink. However, it is likely to be the reverse in India since the Flint Group has two ink manufacturing plants producing commercial newspaper inks and packaging inks. Press reports are guessing that the sale process could split the company, which currently employs 6,800 worldwide.

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in nominal and real terms – in a region poised for the highest change in year to year expenditure in printing equipment and consumables. Our 2024 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock – to emphasize your visibility and relevance to your customers and turn potential markets into conversations.

– Naresh Khanna

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