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IVE Group buys printer Ovato for $16m

·2-min read

One large-scale printer of glossy magazines and catalogues remains in Australia, with IVE Group completing its $16 million acquisition of Ovato following a collapse of the 150-year-old company.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last month elected not to oppose the takeover, even though it combines the country's last two providers of heatset web-offset printing.

Ovato had been in voluntary administration since July, and the ACCC concluded that without the sale, Ovato's printing assets would be sold to overseas purchasers or for scrap.

Ovato has printing presses in Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth.

IVE plans to close the Brisbane site soon and eventually shut the 35,000-square-metre Sydney plant, relocating the equipment to its existing sites. The Perth facility will continue to operate as usual.

As recently as 2016 Australia had five heatset web-offset printing companies but the industry has consolidated as print volumes diminished.

IVE swallowed up Victoria-based catalogue printers AIW and Franklin, while ASX-listed Print Media Group (PMP) and the Hannan family's Independent Print Media Group (IPMG) merged in 2017 to become Ovato.

The company prints catalogues for the likes of Woolworths, IGA and Aldi as well as magazines such as The Economist, Australian Women's Weekly and Vogue.

"We will provide ongoing stability and continuity to the largest retailers and publishers in Australia," IVE chief executive Matt Aitken told AAP.

Some 250 Ovato staff will join IVE Group as part of the transition, which is expected to take 18 months and cost another $22 million.

When complete the acquisition is expected add $160m in revenue to IVE Group's $760m, and raise its expected underlying net profit by 41 per cent, or $36m.

Investors liked the deal, sending IVE stock up 10 per cent to a two-year high of $2.505 on a day when the overall market was down by more than two per cent.

IVE executive chairman Geoff Selig said that the heatset web-offset print production industry had actually been slower to consolidate than other areas IVE competes in, such as retail display advertising and third-party logistics.

"It's really been the last part of the sector to consolidate really," he said.

IVE also on Wednesday relaunched digital catalogue aggregator Lasoo.com.au as an e-commerce marketplace, offering deals from the likes of Coles, Target, Australia Post and Big W.