*Quebecor Buys World Color for $2.7 Billion

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Quebecor Printing Inc. agreed yesterday to a $2.7 billion mega-acquisition of World Color Press Inc. in a move the companies called the largest merger in the history of the printing industry.

The combination would propel Quebecor ahead of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., Chicago, as the largest printer in North America. Quebecor Printing expects the acquisition to double its annual U.S. revenue to $4.7 billion. The new company, to be called Quebecor World Inc., will print magazines, catalogs, books, direct mail and other materials.

Quebecor Printing, Montreal, will pay about $840 million in cash for World Color, Greenwich, CT, and assume $1.3 billion of World Color debt.

World Color's biggest business segments are commercial, inserts and circulars, representing 29 percent of the company's revenue. Catalogs contribute 23 percent of World Color's sales and direct mail 8 percent. Shares of World Color gained 17.4 percent by Monday's closing bell, rising 5 3/16 to 35.

A unit of communications holding company Quebecor Inc., Quebecor Printing has grown 12-fold over the past decade, mostly by buying other companies. The firm's previous acquisitions include Maxwell Graphics Holdings, American Signature, Eagle Lithographing, Sayers Communications, the Petty Company and the Franklin Division of Brown Printing.

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