Punch International, the Belgian owner of Xeikon, plans to float its graphics division on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London before the first half of this year. It will retain its Euronext Brussels listing. The new listing will give more operational and financial independence to the group’s graphics activities, which now account for nearly 50 percent of group turnover, as well as offering greater transparency for investors.
Founded as an electronics subcontractor, Punch has expanded rapidly into an international group with extensive R&D capabilities. It comprises three divisions. Conventional subcontracting and production activities for the automotive, consumer electronics and the television industries are grouped under Manufacturing Services. The Wireless Applications division includes telemetry (the use of radio waves and telephone lines), while the Graphics Division includes Strobbe Graphics (computer to plate technology), Xeikon (digital color printing) and basysPrint (computer to conventional plate technology). In September 2003 Punch acquired all of Esko Graphics’ front-end activities related to digital color printing. Dick Tilanus, recently appointed as PunchGraphics’ CEO, was with Philips International for 30 years and left as senior vice president.
These graphics activities will become a single legal entity, named PunchGraphics, to form a wholly-owned subsidiary of Punch International. Following the AIM listing, Punch intends to float part of its PunchGraphics shares on the market. At the same time it will seek to raise “a substantial amount” of new capital using an institutional placement in the London market. This transaction should provide an important boost to support future growth of both PunchGraphics and Punch International. Financial consultations in accordance with market conditions will determine the timetable of the listing.
• Xeikon America will sell, market and service Xeikon digital equipment directly in Canada. This follows a similar strategy in the USA and means that the company no longer works through AB Dick, its former Canadian distributor. Xeikon has hired Canada based sales and marketing personnel to support new equipment sales and factory-trained service technicians located in the Toronto area.