Figure 1: Production Digital Printing Application Landscape
Recently, Investcorp, a multi-national investment firm known for investing in alternative markets, announced that it will be acquiring SPG Prints, a Netherlands-based company specializing in the manufacture of digital inks and equipment for wide format, textile, and packaging applications. With this acquisition, SPG Prints may now have a chance to further expand their offerings within the graphic arts industry.
SPG Prints was acquired seven years ago by Bencis Capital Partners, who completed the takeover of Xeikon and Apeldoorn Flexible Packaging (a firm which produces flexible packaging concepts) last year. For Investcorp, the USD $326 million acquisition of SPG Prints was the fifth acquisition the company has had in the last 12 months, but is the first this year in the graphic arts industry. However, the acquisition of SPG Prints is not Investcorp’s first foray into the graphic arts industry. In 2010, Investcorp acquired Berlin Packaging, a manufacturer of stock rigid packaging. In 2012, they acquired Esmalglass-Itaca Group, a company that produces inkjet inks for tile surfaces among other ceramic raw materials.
In their corporate philosophy, Investcorp notes that they specialize in investing in small to medium-sized technology companies in fields that are growing and up-and-coming. Investcorp specializes in the acquisition of companies in software, IT services, telecommunications, semiconductors, and digital media; they do not invest in any life sciences or medical device companies. The acquisition by Investcorp seems to be part of a larger strategy to use SPG Prints to move into adjacent markets and technologies. In a press release on July 10, Carsten Hagenbucher, a Principal in Investcorp’s corporate investment team, was quoted as saying that, “There are many parallels to other portfolio companies in which we have invested and we look forward to applying such knowledge to SPG Prints, particularly with respect to digital inks.”
It is likely that Investcorp’s goal is to use the SPG Prints digital print system and ink knowledge to work with the Esmalglass-Itaca Group to expand its reach in the digital printing of ceramics and glass. Additionally, SPG Prints could easily work with Berlin Packaging to further expand on its label and packaging business. SPG Prints hardware and ink knowledge could easily lead to more printing systems for the functional and industrial market.
Investcorp did mention that it intends for the growth of SPG Prints to be organic, allowing them to develop key solutions that drive growth, while also keeping their eye on companies that could be acquired to expand SPG Prints’ reach geographically and capability wise. The most important concept of this acquisition will be to observe how long Investcorp decides to hold on to SPG Prints, as the company has a history of high turnovers of its portfolio; the average investment is around two to three years.
With this acquisition, Investcorp signals to a larger trend in the market: Investment firms are looking to expand their portfolios to include technology that is expanding graphics arts industry while also moving towards the functional and industrial market. These companies’ recent activities in investment into companies such as SPG Prints reinforces InfoTrends’ belief that digital printing technologies are viewed as an attractive investment that meets producers demands for innovation for new products. The response to this demand is that graphic communications technologies, such as inkjet printing, are migrating into packaging, decorative, and functional printing (as illustrated by Figure 1).
For more information on the research that InfoTrends is doing around functional and industrial printing, we encourage you visit the InfoTrends Functional & Industrial Printing Service page.