Flint Group has confirmed the sale of its Xsys prepress wing, with Steve Dryden becoming Flint’s CEO.

There had been speculation for some time that Flint’s owners, Goldman Sachs and Koch Equity Development, might divest all or part of the business.

This intensified after Flint created Xsys, a new division for its prepress, flexo and letterpress operations earlier this year.

Last night (September 8), Flint announced that Xsys was being sold to private equity firm Lone Star Funds.

The Xsys business has a turnover of around €300m (£257m) and 600 employees. Its slogan is “Print solid”. Stay flexible’.

The deal is subject to customary execution conditions, but once finalized Antoine Fady, who was CEO of Flint Group, will become CEO of the Xsys business, with Xsys President Dagmar Schmidt becoming COO.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Flint said the sale would allow it to invest more in its “market-leading” packaging inks and Xeikon digital printing business. The sale will also strengthen the group’s balance sheet.

Flint had a turnover of €1.7bn (£1.46bn) last year and employed around 6,200 people worldwide.

Dryden, who was COO at Flint, becomes its CEO. He joined the company eight years ago as Chief Financial Officer of DS Smith where he was Group Chief Financial Officer. He is well known to large printing groups and online offset printers as CEO of Flint’s commercial, publishing and sheetfed ink businesses.

He said the separation would strengthen the strategic and operational focus of the two companies.

“Flint Group is positioning itself to invest further in the structurally growing segments of paper and board, flexible packaging and labels, served by our conventional and digital printing consumables,” said Dryden.

“This successful strategy – focused on product and service innovation – allows Flint to grow with customers who value our color proposition by helping them standardize and reduce costs.”

Dryden: Separation will strengthen the strategic and operational focus of both companies

Fady described the carve-out as “the logical next step for Flint Group and Xsys.”

“It will further enable the Xsys business to grow as a best-in-class, complete solutions provider for the flexographic and letterpress prepress industries, with bespoke solutions developed for every market segment and customer type. .”

“We look forward to working with Lone Star, whose experience and track record will be of great benefit as we move Xsys forward into this next phase.”

Reuters previously noted that private equity buyers are “falling in love” with plastic packaging companies due to ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues associated with the use of plastics, with the sale of Xsys seen as a important due to its products being used to print on plastic – as well as paper – packaging.

However, one industry expert noted: “It’s interesting that Flint is moving away from its plate operations, especially since flexo packaging isn’t going digital at the same rate that the general lithography industries are moving to digital presses.

Donald Quintin, President of Lone Star Opportunity Funds, said, “We recognize not only the resilience of the Xsys business and the diversity of its offerings, but also its growth prospects. We appreciate the value that Xsys provides to its many customers and have great confidence in the management team’s commitment to realizing the potential of Xsys in the years to come.

Xsys products, including the Nyloflex and Nyloprint range of flexo and letterpress plate products, are used in a wide variety of markets including flexible packaging, corrugated pre- and post-print, aseptic packaging and costs, labels and labels, security printing, molding and stamping and pad printing.