Landa and Altana: Why It Makes Sense

Digital print technology start-up Landa made a splash recently with its news of a $130 million investment in it by Altana Chemical (Germany), in the process becoming a minority owner of the Israeli company. In an interview  with InfoTrends recently, Benny Landa, founder and head of his namesake company, explained that Altana investment is about more than money and ownership—Altana is a strategic partner, contributing to Landa’s mission in terms of materials science, marketing, and global supply chain. Some points:

  • Altana is a top supplier of coatings, varnishes, colorants, inks, and ink components to both digital and conventional printing industries.
  • Its operating divisions include Eckart (metallic inks) and Actega (coatings and sealants), significant suppliers of products for use with digital presses and finishing systems.
  • Landa will still manufacture its own inks, but Altana will help in terms of both materials science and certain products, from coatings to ink components.
  • Altana has operations around the world, and as such will be able to support Landa manufacturing and Landa users in all regions. Core manufacturing of inks and parts, though, will be anchored in new facilities based in Israel, Landa’s home base.

Since the big headlines Landa made at the drupa 2012 show—with its water-based, inkjet offset technology, its multiple prototypes and their amazing specs—the company has been comparatively quiet. There have been accomplishments, including much improved print samples, but so far no beta units, with the first ones now expected in early 2015. That said, the Altana news is clear evidence that Landa is a going concern and that it inspires confidence in some of the market’s most well informed manufacturers. In the opinion of InfoTrends’ Color Digital Label and Packaging (CDLP) service, Landa continues to be a company with exciting potential.

Altana is actually the third major investor in Landa; the two others are ones that, like Altana, bring Landa more than money, namely Komori (transports) and EFI (digital front end and production workflow). The message overall is that Landa has now attracted as investors a triumvirate of companies, all ones that can also make strategic contributions and benefit from Landa’s innovation.

A final observation about the recent news is that it highlights the importance of ink manufacturing to the Landa business model. With Komori contributing transport technology, EFI contributing digital front ends, and an undisclosed supplier contributing inkjet heads, core elements of any Landa printer will be the work of other companies, each of which will derive its own profits from Landa equipment sales. Given that consideration, Landa’s commitment to keeping ink development under its own roof in Israel makes sense: for Landa to thrive, it must garner most of the annuity revenues from its installed base.