Flint Group up for sale since late 2019

Debt refinancing in next two weeks seen as a precondition to sale process

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Flint Group ink manufacturing plant in Savli, Vadodara
Flint Group ink manufacturing plant in Savli, Vadodara

A Reuters report on 27 May 2021 said that the Flint Group is nearing the completion of a debt refinancing deal seen as a precondition for selling the company, a process initiated in late 2019. However, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the sales process. Goldman Sachs’ private equity arm and Koch Equity Development, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, are the current owners.

Flint Group EBITDA data during the pandemic

Flint Group has seen its sales decrease in the past 17 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, and guesstimates of its 2020 EBITDA vary from Euro 200 million to Euro 220 million. The group’s EBITDA was Euro 266 million in 2019. It is negotiating with lenders to restructure or amend its financing of Euro 1.7 billion in the next few weeks for perhaps another two years at slightly better rates.

The former US-based Flint Ink became the second-largest printing ink maker globally in 2005 when it merged with XSYS Print Solutions, created in 2004 by combining the ink units of BASF and Akzo Nobel Inks. The larger merger was renamed the Flint Group, with headquarters in Luxembourg.

In 2007 Flint Group acquired Day International, a pressroom consumable supplier. Goldman Sachs private equity and Koch Industries acquired the group in 2014 at a reported valuation exceeding Euro 2.2 billion.

Even before the merger, Flint Inks had grown in North America by acquiring smaller ink companies. It had started a digital inkjet press development group that it sold to EFI when the global ink merger took place. Later, it went on to acquire Xeikon, which manufactures digital presses and flexo plate equipment.

Flint also manufactures polymer plates for flexography, and it became equipment, plate, and ink supplier to that segment of the label and packaging industry. Ironically in January 2021, the group revived the XSYS branding for its flexo plates, sleeves, and exposing systems.

It is reported that the bulk of the group’s profit comes from the packaging industry and the rest from ink. However, it is likely to be the reverse in India since the Flint Group has two ink manufacturing plants producing commercial newspaper inks and packaging inks. Press reports are guessing that the sale process could split the company, which currently employs 6,800 worldwide.

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