Rise in Chinese investment worldwide

July 21, 2016

A Bloomberg feature studies how private equity from China is “taking on the world’s giants”.china

The article notes that such firms are pursuing “overseas deals at record pace”, with the industry “expanding globally at an unprecedented pace” led by companies including AGIC, Legend Capital and Golden Brick Capital. The firms are “in competition with European and US counterparts like never before”, having been “fuelled by China’s growing wealth, investor sophistication and desire to gain exposure to overseas assets”.

Chinese funds have been involved in around $16.4 billion (€14.8 billion) in cross-border deals in 2016 so far, surpassing the previous record of $11 billion (€9 billion) in 2012, where as previously the industry was “better known for ‘buy-and-flip’ investments in local companies already primed to go public”. Chinese regulators asked for help on getting such companies to “add more value”, and this year has seen Legend and PAG Asia Capital partner with Apex to acquire Lexmark.

That $3.6 billion (€3.2 billion) deal is just one of many that has happened because of “China’s growing army of high-net worth individuals”, who are “increasingly keen to diversify overseas” after China’s recent economic issues, and the Lexmark deal was also one of a few in which private equity firms work alongside “corporates and financial firms to help structure the deals and amplify their buying power”.

The funds are also becoming “more active in their home market”, partly due to a “regulatory bottleneck for initial public offerings – which encouraged companies to turn to PE firms for financing”, and also because of the rise of China’s internet industry, which its government “shields from foreign ownership”. The domestic funds also have an advantage in “identifying promising investment targets”, though many overseas firms are also investing in China.

These foreign firms, for the most part however, are “concerned about rising valuations” in China, with the average acquisition target in China last year having a value of 18 times its earnings, while “most signs point toward a bigger role” for Chinese equity firms “both at home and abroad”.

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New Lexmark printers launched in South Africa

July 19, 2016

The A4 700 and 8000 series of laser printers and MFPs have been made available by distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC).

Lexmark's CX725

Lexmark’s CX725

IT Web reported on the launch, with the new printers including the CS270, 275 and 820 single-function machines (the CS700 and CS800 ranges), and the CX725, 820, 825 and 860 MFPs (the CX700 and CX800 ranges).  The site noted that the devices “meet the demand of this fast-growing segment of the print and imaging industry”, citing IDC data that showed the third quarter of last year in the global market was a “very strong segment for worldwide MFP activity”.

The machines feature an Android user interface for “very familiar mobile device qualities and characteristics”, as well as “high-powered document scanning capabilities”, an “enhanced mobile device printing experience” and “robust, enhanced security tools”. A new generation of Unison core and shell toner meanwhile has “lower friction and works at lower temperatures”, helping to drop energy consumption “by a third”.

In turn, new photo conductors and drums “using long-life components” are said to help “lower maintenance and ensure improved TCO), while the MFPs utilise a “powerful quad core processor” for faster printing and copying speeds. All the devices have a tablet-like touchscreen, while the “flagship CX860” has “industry-best toner capacity, large input/output capacity and flexible media support”.

Colin Pretorius, Lexmark Product Specialist at DCC, commented: “The Lexmark A4 printers and MFPs enable us to readily supply products to the growing A4 printer marketplace. The devices offer quality and advanced features that will provide excellent business productivity and TCO gains.”

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Lexmark calls special meeting of its shareholders

June 29, 2016

The OEM wants shareholders to vote on the “Agreement and Plan of Merger”.LexmarkLogo_RGB_300

After investigations by law firms into the objectivity of the sale of Lexmark International, Inc. to the syndicate headed by Apex Technology the OEM has invited its shareholders to vote on the merger.

The planned meeting is for 22 July and the vote and the legal document from Lexmark asks shareholders to vote to merge with its “LLCs and Apex technology”. The legal document is 185 pages long and on the first page the company states “The board has approved the merger agreement and determined that the merger agreement is advisable, fair to and in the best interests of the Company

and its stockholders, in each case by the unanimous vote of the directors present at the meeting held to approve the transaction.”

It goes on to say that “The board unanimously recommends that the stockholders of the Company vote “FOR” the proposal to adopt the merger agreement. In addition, the board unanimously recommends that the stockholders of the Company vote “FOR” the advisory (non-binding) proposal to approve specified compensation that may become payable to the named executive officers of the Company in connection with the merger and “FOR” the proposal to adjourn the special meeting if necessary or appropriate to solicit additional proxies”.

The document also says that “the merger cannot be completed unless holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of common stock vote in favour of the adoption of the merger agreement”.





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Lexmark releases new application for MFPs

June 28, 2016

The OEM has improved its AccuRead Automate 2.0 to distinguish multi-page documents.LexmarkLogo_RGB_300

Lexmark say that this will increase “efficiency and performance” and that the updated software will be available from August. The application will require “an initial input of the different variants which eliminates manual pre-sorting”, and “additional enhancements include expanded automation functions that provide even faster and more precise capture and processing of documents and greatly accelerate downstream processes”.

The new format enhances the fundamental features of AccuRead Automate, and improves the speed of document classification and storage in retrievable files. Sorting is now “performed on full text” which allows the “recognition and classification of documents”, and results in “lower error rate than previous versions.” The solution is available for the Lexmark CX7 and CX8 series of colour printer products.

Danny Molhoek, General Manager for North West Europe at Lexmark, said: “Businesses in the UK struggle with capturing printed information and retrieving it easily when needed. Often manual steps are required for before and after the scanning process owing to the wide variety of document types available. Other barriers to data extraction from printed documents include insufficient employee training and limited network bandwidth in remote locations.

“This update optimises the core features of the AccuRead Automate solution, ensuring a smoother operation. It also includes significant improvements in speed and performance when classifying documents and extracting the relevant information.”






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Lexmark employees want to block Apex acquisition

May 24, 2016

LexmarkLogo_RGB_300The workforce is concerned about National security and hacking.

Wirth Consulting have reported that they are in receipt of a copy of a letter sent to President Obama by a group named “Lexmark International for Ethical Conduct”, requesting that the President blocks the planned acquisition of Lexmark International by Apex Technology. Citing U.S. national security as a concern, the group said that this would be compromised. The apexlogoacquisition has to be approved by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment and has been but the group state that “The overall risk to (U.S.) national security is real, immeasurable and unpreventable unless the sale of Lexmark to a Chinese firm is disallowed.”

The letter is reported to be on behalf of 13,000 employees but is not signed by an individual. It requests the President to “intervene and block the sale of …Lexmark International to the Chinese firm Apex Technology…this sale should be disallowed due to extreme national security risks.” The letter also states that “unlike older analog copiers, because Lexmark copier/MFP/printers are “smart” digital copier/MFPs that are controlled by a PC operating system, they are vulnerable to hacking, noting, for instance, that they make a digital copy of every scanned document before printing it or transmitting it via fax or email; this stored information is vulnerable to being accessed by unauthorized user”.

In addition the employees state that “Apex will own hardware copyrights to Lexmark MFPs, they will have access to all device firmware source code, and have access to all source code for Lexmark workflow software,” and notes that “Lexmark also owns more than a dozen software companies whose workflow software is used by many thousands of companies’ document-workflow environments that include Lexmark MFPs. These software companies include Readsoft, which markets business-automation software, such as software for processing invoices”.

Other concerns are that Lexmark MFPs were used extensively by the “U.S. Department of Defence (DOD), U.S. Pentagon, U.S. National Security Agency, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Homeland Security Agency, U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA), and U.S. Special Operations Command (the unified command for the worldwide use U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force special operations), as well as U.S. state and local governments”.

The letter went on to say, in bold ink, that “Allowing a communist country access to Lexmark hardware and firmware allows them direct access ‘behind the firewall’ to any of these offices,” adding “Should any company (or government) have access to our hardware PCBA designs or firmware source code, they could easily install malicious code, viruses, or malware into these MFPs” and that “there would be no way to detect this malicious code or prevent wide-scale digital virus infections.”

The writers claim that the acquisition would lay bare companies from the private sector like banking, healthcare, and education as well as “most Fortune 500 companies.” Reinforcing their argument, the employees reminded the President that the DOD will not purchase Chinese Lenovo laptops because of national security concerns and said that “Lexmark MFPs have the same potential for harm as a determined hacker with unrestricted LAN (local area network) access that is sitting in the (U.S.) NSA (National Security Agency) offices.” They also claim that “older Lexmark MFP generations, that are in the field but are no longer being sold, specifically those code named SHaFT and Homestretch, are particularly susceptible to hacking,” due to the use of older technology like LINUX, saying that “Lexmark’s LINUX kernel is posted publicly as is required by the LINUX community.”

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Lexmark issuing “threatening” letters to remanufacturers

May 11, 2016

LexmarknewlogosignThe OEM is sending out letters to companies involved in previous legal cases “to find out if they are abiding by the law”, with the I-ITC describing the letters as having a “chilling effect” on the industry.

A source in Asia told The Recycler, and the International Imaging Technology Council (I-ITC) reported that Lexmark has begun to send more “threatening” letters to “previous remanufacturers that it has sued to find out if they are abiding by the law as set forth by the Federal Circuit of Appeals”. The I-ITC noted that “so far, no letters have been reported being received by remanufacturers who weren’t part of Lexmark’s earlier litigation, but the chilling effect on the industry is palpable”.

The letters relate to the case won by Lexmark in the US in February this year, which began when remanufacturer Impression Products was named in an IP infringement case in October 2013. The case referred to “unlawful importation […] the sale for importation and/or the sale within the United States after importation” of infringing remanufactured and cloned aftermarket cartridges, with the remanufacturer moving to dismiss claims and overturn the Jazz Photo decision that impacts on patent exhaustion, or the “first-sale doctrine”.

This was also influenced by the Kirtsaeng case in 2013, and Impression’s case went to the appeals circuit, with Lexmark opposing a ruling it had exhausted patent rights in its Prebate programme. Impression also wished to overturn a ruling that it had infringed Lexmark’s patents relating to remanufactured cartridges that used empties from outside the USA.

However, the ruling decided Impression “infringed the patent rights of Lexmark […] when it imported Lexmark’s toner products back into the United States after they were first sold abroad”, as well as that it was “liable for selling refurbished Lexmark cartridges that were originally marketed for a single use under its return and recycle programme”.

Appeals supporting Impression were heard in October 2015, including from Google, Intel, Dell and the New York Times, and legal experts had predicted a win for the remanufacturer last year, with some attacking Lexmark’s “baffling” case. Recently, the Electronics Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus, or friend-of-the-court brief, in support of Impression, and the I-ITC has now done the same.

The association noted that Lexmark’s action with the letters “further underscore[s] the need for the US Supreme Court to hear Impression Products’ appeal, and even more the need for the I-ITC to support its efforts”. It also added that the case needs to “clear up the confusion that the lower court’s decision created for commerce”, pointing out that “at issue in the case is whether a manufacturer of original computer printers and consumable supplies can impose a patent license on new cartridge buyers to thwart competition from remanufactured used laser toner cartridges”.

The Recycler’s source added that the letters are similar to those sent out a few years ago concerning other legal cases, but that no specific patents are mentioned, only a series of printers in the OEM’s MX, T, E and C ranges in which infringing aftermarket cartridges can be used, as well as the OEM’s return programme for original cartridges.




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US construction company mixes toner with asphalt

May 9, 2016

Lexmark is providing toner to APM, who use it in tarmac for roads.Overlay_REV_56e318b2cf549

Lexmark and Close the Loop (CtL), a “clean tech and resource recovery company for imaging consumables” based in Hebron, Kentucky, have been working together on ideas for recycling toner powder in hot mix asphalt. CtL has a global reputation for recycling an assortment of materials, turning them into “environmentally friendly products”, and approached Asphalt Paving and Maintenance (APM), a contractor in Lexington who had previously done some work for Lexmark, reported Construction PROS.com.

Last year, APM became the first US contractor to use a mix containing an additive from recycled printer cartridges, winning the right to the job and testing the mix by paving half of a 17,000 square metre area in a car park with traditional mix, and the other half with the “recycled toner, called MTP”. MTP is produced by CtL, and is made of “100 percent recycled materials” including waste oils and shredded tyre rubber as well as waste toner powder. The project is significant, as “finding high volume sustainable reuse program[mes] for the powder has been an environmental challenge” worldwide.

Peter Kramer, President of APM, commented: “When we first heard about their product, we thought that it was a pretty interesting idea. We did some research and no one had installed a mix using this additive in North America, and we were intrigued to be part of the process for the first installation. We worked very hard for this project. It’s a unique product and a process and we’re really excited to be part of it.

“We’re very customer centric. We work hard to meet their needs and to come up with the best possible solution – not the cheapest or the easiest necessarily, but what’s best for what the customer needs. And that approach has opened some doors for us.”




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Latest remanufacturing guide now available

May 4, 2016

The new guide offers remanufacturers a step-by-step process for remanufacturing Lexmark’s C925 toner cartridge.

The Lexmark C925de

The Lexmark C925de

This latest guide, which you can view and download here, covers the various steps needed to remanufacture the cartridge, with the 925 toner cartridges used in a wide range of the OEM’s C925 printer range. The machines feature speeds of 30ppm and a print resolution of 600 x 600dpi, and the cartridges are said to be “just simple tubes”, with a “lot of questions” asked about them from the industry.

 The Recycler previously launched the Online Magazines and Guides page, where you can download or view all of our remanufacturing guides or wide-format quarterly online. Earlier this year, guides were released for the Xerox Phaser 3010 toner cartridge and Xerox Phaser 3610 toner cartridge; while in November and December 2015, remanufacturing guides for HP’s LaserJet Pro M201 and MFP M225 cartridges and LaserJet Pro M402/MFP M426 cartridges were launched.

In October 2015, The Recycler also launched five new remanufacturing guides for Xerox, Brother, Samsung and HP cartridges, and earlier this year, another guide for remanufacturing HP Inc’s LaserJet Enterprise M506/MFP M527 toner cartridge. All of the guides have been provided by Mike Josiah and the technical team at Uninet, and you can find all previously-released guides from The Recycler at the Online Magazines and Guides page.




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Lexmark’s latest quarterly results mixed

April 28, 2016

The OEM noted that revenue grew in its MPS and enterprise software units, but fell across the board despite the recent acquisition announcement.Lexmarknewlogosign

The results saw Lexmark reveal that revenue fell year-over-year from $852 million (€750 million) to $806 million (€709 million), and while revenue increased in both the MPS and enterprise software units, it declined in non-MPS revenue and the ongoing inkjet exit was also a factor. In more detail, the MPS unit saw revenue grow two percent to $189 million (€166 million), while enterprise software grew 60 percent to $143 million (€125 million).

The imaging supplies unit meanwhile saw a fall of 13 percent to $669 million (€588 million) in revenue, and non-MPS revenue fell 14 percent to $460 million (€404 million), while inkjet exit revenue fell 58 percent to $20 million (€17 million). Lexmark commented that the results “reflect growth in MPS and enterprise software offset by the strong US dollar”, and “decline in non-MPS revenue and the ongoing exit of inkjet”.

One particular growth area was the higher value solutions unit, with revenue growing 21 percent to $332 million (€292 million), and the OEM added that this revenue “accounted for 41 percent of total revenue”, an increase from 32 percent last year”. Lexmark also referenced the recent acquisition deal with Apex, pointing out that the deal is “the result of an exhaustive six-month strategic alternatives review” undertaken to “maximise shareholder value”.

The merger is “expected to close in the second half of 2016”, but is first “subject to approval by Lexmark shareholders, foreign and domestic regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions”. The OEM will “not conduct quarterly conference calls” during the pending period, and upon closure of the deal, its stock “will cease to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange”.




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Mexican workers take down protest camp

April 27, 2016

After five months and a settlement agreement with Lexmark, the tent village has been taken down.

rer130415k/A112.30.2015/ Roberto E. Rosales/Journal Workers who were fired by the Lexmark Company in Ciudad Juarez have staged a protest in front of the company. They were fired for demanding a raise in wages. Pictured is a makeshift tent located just steps from the entrance to a factory. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico(Albuquerque Journal)

The protest camp in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (credit, Albuquerque Journal)

The encampment was built to maintain the protest about the firing of workers who were demanding more pay in the printer cartridge factory based in Ciudad Juarez. After five months and one week, a settlement agreement was reached, and Susana Prieto Terrazas, the attorney representing some 50 workers, said that there was little resistance left in the workers as “they didn’t have any way to support their families”.

Jerry Grasso, Lemark’s spokesman, added that “all we are saying in regards to (the) settlement question is that we have reached [an] agreement with our former employees”. He also stated that 75 workers were fired last autumn after “work place disruption”, which resulted in protests in support of the workers.

There has been unrest since last summer in the border town, where workers from different plants have been asking for pay increase. The minimum wage in Mexico is 73 pesos ($4/€3) a day, Lexmark were paying 104 pesos ($6/€5) to 121 pesos ($7/€6)  and the workers wanted a rise of six pesos ($0.34/€0.30) an hour.

Attempts to unionise had been repeatedly blocked in the courts, but Prieto Terrazas reported that “the workers are establishing a non-profit [organisation] instead”. This will be called [email protected] [email protected] de Ciudad Juarez A.C., or ‘maquila workers of Ciudad Juarez’, with the use of @ a Mexican way of omitting gender. The non-profit organisation will “work to denounce human rights and labour violations” in more than 300 factories in the city.

To prevent discrimination of members by companies, the membership will be undisclosed. Prieto Terrazas said that “the organisation will also fight for higher wages. We believe, in accordance with our own studies that the minimum wage should be between 250 and 300 pesos a day ($14/€12) and $17/€15), so that it’s really enough to pay for basic goods and children’s schooling. It’s very important that people don’t keep living in poverty”.




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