Quad/Graphics to buy Worldcolor

Quad/Graphics plans to acquire rival print and digital services firm Worldcolor this summer, the two companies announced last week. The buy makes Quad the No. 2 printer in North America, behind only RR Donnelley & Sons.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the acquisition, estimated the size of the takeover at $1.3 to $1.4 billion. The two companies had aggregate unaudited revenues of $5.1 billion in 2009. Representatives from Quad/Graphics and Worldcolor did not return phone calls seeking comment on the acquisition.

Once the deal is complete, the combined company will serve printing customers in the US, Canada, Latin America and Europe in the magazine, catalog, retail insert, book, directory and direct mail industries.

Bill Lamparter, president of the PrintCom Consulting Group, a printing industry consulting company, said that many companies may ultimately end up paying higher prices set by Quad/Graphics because of the printer’s dominance.

“My initial reaction is that there will be customers who feel that their options for competitive bidding have been reduced,” he said.

Lamparter added that that while the combined company will be smaller than RR Donnelly, it will be more competitive against both bigger and smaller rivals.

“[RR Donnelley] is still bigger, and it is more diversified in terms of services,” he said. “One has to assume that the new company is going to be aggressive in pursuing sales.”

Doug Fitzgerald, EVP of communications for RR Donnelley, declined comment.

Known as Quebecor World prior to its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, Worldcolor rejected RR Donnelley’s offer to buy the company last summer. Quebecor World said in a document released at the time that its reorganization plan had “fewer risks to completion than would the transactions proposed by [RR Donnelley] in the latest indication of interest.” Donnelley first expressed interest in acquiring Quebecor in May 2009, offering to pay Quebecor debtors approximately $957 million in cash and 30 million shares. Donnelley reported upped its offer by $100 million, but that bid was also declined.

Joel Quadracci, chairman, president and CEO of Quad/Graphics, will lead the combined company. Mark Angelson, Worldcolor chairman and CEO, will join Quad/Graphics’ board as chairman of its committee on integration and consolidation. The company’s board will expand to eight members by adding Angelson and one other Worldcolor director.

Through the agreement, Worldcolor shareholders will receive approximately 40% of the outstanding shares of Quad/Graphics, while Quad/Graphics shareholders will hold about 60% of shares.

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