Hong Kong-controlled book printer Opus will acquire the former Griffin Press business from Ovato following approval from the Australian regulator.
Based across NSW, ACT and VIC, Opus Group – majority-owned by HK-based Lion Rock Group – will pay $8.5 million for Ovato’s technically-advanced book printing business now that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has indicated it will not oppose the deal.
The ACCC’s Liza Carver said a key factor in the decision was the “likely imminent insolvency of Ovato” if the proposed transaction did not proceed.
The regulator had previously blocked a similar deal with the then PMP for Griffin Press a decade ago.
Opus will pay $8.5 million now, plus a further $2.5 million as a convertible note to mature in 18 months' time.
Opus owns rival McPhersons and Ligare, and says it will retain the former Griffin site in Adelaide with hopes of retaining all 80-90 staff, “harmonising” production with its existing book facilities.
Left Field recently pumped $10 million into Ovato, lending it $5.1 million loan and taking over a chattel mortgage, so that it now holds 14.7 per cent of Ovato.
Opus executive chairman Richard Celarc has however said that Opus isn’t interested in taking over Ovato’s broader catalogue business.
The ACCC acknowledged the overlap in the mono book business, and noted market fears that local capacity would be removed from the market if Ovato went out of business.
“Based on that evidence we concluded that without the proposed transaction, Ovato would become insolvent and there was a real chance that its printing capacity would exit the book printing market,” Carver said