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Esko acquires Artwork Systems

August 2, 2007

Two major companies in the packaging prepress field have joined forces. Esko and Artwork Systems, both headquartered in Gent, Belgium, will combine their operations following the acquisition by Esko of a majority of Artwork Systems' shares from the three principal shareholders.

The resulting new entity, according to a statement from Esko, has estimated 2007 revenues in excess of €180 million and a combined workforce of close to 1,000. The consolidation strengthens the market presence of the combined companies in packaging and printing prepress products and services in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. Artwork Systems develops software systems for the preparation of professional color printing. Among Esko's products are flexo computer-to-plate and sleeve systems, and software that covers graphic and structural design.

The three principal shareholders of Artwork Systems Group NV — Guido Van der Schueren, Peter Denoo and Bart Denoo — today signed an agreement to sell their shares in the company to Esko NV, which is controlled by the Danish private equity fund Axcel. The shares sold represent a 76.69 percent majority stake in Artwork Systems, and were sold at a purchase price per share of €11.50 in cash, valuing Artwork Systems at €196 million. Following completion of the sale, expected to be August 9, Esko will launch a public offer for the remaining shares, at a price of €11.50 per share.

Carsten Knudsen, CEO of Esko-Graphics A/S, will become the CEO of the combined group. Guido Van der Schueren, chairman of Artwork Systems, will become the chief commercial officer leading the new group’s integrated marketing and sales operations.

“Starting from a common background with prepress software for packaging specialists, Artwork Systems and Esko each have developed into broader and complementary application areas," says Van der Schueren. "Our combined portfolio of products and services offers appropriate solutions for virtually any customer in packaging, commercial printing and office/business publishing. Bringing together our expertise and innovative strength opens up significant growth opportunities for our customers and employees alike.”

“The combination of Esko and Artwork Systems is a significant milestone in the consolidation of suppliers to the printing and publishing industry," says Knudsen. "Especially in the packaging segment, bundling the expertise, products and customer networks of both companies creates new and exciting opportunities for supply chain partners to improve collaboration and facilitate integration. Our attention now goes first and foremost to protect our respective customers’ investments into our solutions, and to work closely with them to respond to their future requirements.”
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