Interlocking Directorate?

Dozens of breathless emails have announced what has been a long time coming.  Lexmark’s sale to a consortium, led by Apex.

There are several entities that are allied with Apex, as outlined below, that have been subject to lawsuits brought by Lexmark for patent infringement.  Seems that Apex has found a legal way in to the US market after all!

Their own brand of machines are sold under the name Pantum and have extremely low penetration into the US market and focus on the very low end of the market.  It may be that their pride in the Pantum line may lead them to use it as the brand name for the products designed and engineered by Lexmark.  I doubt they will weaken their presence under the Lexmark name here, but all bets are off.

Below are snippets that I have cobbled together for familiarize yourself with the tentacles of this Chinese behemoth.

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Zhuhai Seine Technology Co., Ltd., (“Seine”), is the largest shareholder of Apex holding approximately 70% of the voting shares of Apex. Apex (Founded in 2004; 5,387 Employees) shareholders also control Pantum International, China’s first printer and printing solutions provider.

Founded in 2000, Zhuhai Seine Technology Co.,Ltd. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of printer consumables. After a series of integration and structural adjustment, the company name has officially changed to Zhuhai APEX Technology Co.,Ltd in 2015. As its international sales company, Ninestar Image Tech Limited has been focusing on the inkjet cartridge, toner cartridge and ribbon for thirteen years. APEX Technology currently operates a manufacturing plant of more than 450,000 square meters with 6000+ dedicated staff members. Although Apex Technology is headquartered in Zhuhai, it has established branches, warehouses and logistic platforms in Holland, the USA, Switzerland and Japan. APEX Technology quality products and services are distributed to over 100 countries and reach over 200 million end users. In recent years Apex Technology was awarded the Most Valuable Enterprise, ranked 4th by Forbes as one of China’s Best SMEs in 2011 and was named in Forbes China Up-And-Comers list in 2012.

APEX Technology regards Loyalty, Pragmatism, Innovation and Bi-win as the enterprise’s core values. It focuses on quality and technology to provide the best products and services. Its production line covers toner cartridge, inkjet cartridge, ribbon and other printer consumables.APEX Technology is devoted to developing and applying its proprietary technologies and patents.

As the pioneer of the industry, APEX Technology continues to utilize the breadth and depth of its capabilities to provide excellent products and services to partners by becoming a leading printing solution provider; also cooperate with partners to push the globalization of printing technologies.

Static Control Components® is the world’s largest manufacturer and global distributor of parts and supplies supporting the laser toner re-manufacturing industry. Our catalog, found on this web site, features more than 15,000 products – everything needed to professionally re-manufacture laser toner cartridges. Headquartered in Sanford, North Carolina in the United States of America, Static Control operates 20 separate manufacturing plants that add up to more than 1.5 million square feet. We have numerous remote locations and global distribution partners to serve you wherever you may be located.

May 7, 2015

Within the last few hours Reuters reports that Static Control Components has been sold to Apex in a $63 million cash deal.

Static Control Components and Apex have issued the following joint statement:

“Static Control Components, Inc. (“Static Control”) and Apex Microelectronics Co., Ltd (“Apex”) are pleased to announce a strategic merger of the two companies. The combination of the two global industry leaders, while maintaining independent operations, will provide customers unparalleled resources and capabilities, and the market with the most technologically advanced and comprehensive product lines, as well as increased speed to market, higher service levels and stronger commitment to further expanding opportunities for the imaging aftermarket.

 

“The merger of Static Control and Apex is a milestone event in the global imaging aftermarket industry. Through the integration of complimentary resources, Static Control and Apex will jointly build a supply platform to maximise potential benefits to all customers and the industry as a whole by delivering the most competitive technology and comprehensive products and services.”

Wednesday, 23 Sep 2015 08:00pm EDT

Apex Technology Co., Ltd:Acquired 100 pct stake in six companies that engaged in consumables business.The six companies are Zhuhai-based electronics technology company, Zhuhai-based enterpirse management company and Zhuhai-based digital technology company, Ninestar Image Tech Limited, Seine(Holland) B.V. and Senie Tech(USA) Co.,Ltd.

Wednesday, 23 Sep 2015 08:00pm EDT

Apex Technology Co., Ltd:Acquired 100 pct stake in six companies that engaged in consumables business.The six companies are Zhuhai-based electronics technology company, Zhuhai-based enterpirse management company and Zhuhai-based digital technology company, Ninestar Image Tech Limited, Seine(Holland) B.V. and Senie Tech(USA) Co.,Ltd.

Nano Pacific (dba Tonerzone.com Inc. and Inkjet Superstore)

     With an outstanding sales and technical service team seated in the US, Nano Pacific is dedicated to provide integrated imaging solutions for the US clients, which also keeps a reasonable inventory in stock, providing customers with convenient logistics services.Nano Pacific focuses on the in-depth cooperation with major accounts, providing its partners with extraordinary customized products and services, such as contract manufacturing and the cooperation in large-scale projects. Nano Pacific is much honored to be the agent of Seine Image in US.

 

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Sisyphus Had It Easy

It’s been long time since I last published and there are too many reasons, and really not enough, to justify my absence.   Where does one start to put a coda on a slog that still seems never-ending?  There are lasting echoes of the recession that still demand our humility.  In fact, the lasting impacts have still not washed out of the system.   Consumers continue to pay down debt, so any windfalls from the collapse of gas pries have yet to fully reflect in strong growth.  Businesses are sitting on trillions in cash, and average wages have barely budged.   I had thought that ten years’ recovery seemed assured but at the 8 year mark I’m still not sure I would recognize normal when it occurred.  They say New Normal. We presume to know what that even means, and can only get our arms around it when looking back at it sometime later.  I don’t feel like its later yet.

Clearly the economy is a game of prediction and we are prone to see trends and patterns where they may not be.   So when we hope and expect that the sun will shine on our parades, the storm, too, should be expected.

In the depths of industry wide demand years ago we saw significantly fewer installations of new equipment and now find supply of last generation gear tighter than in cycles past (did I just suggest a pattern? ).  For example, usually we would expect to see more supply of entry level machines coming back to market.  I suspect those customers are not now inclined to replace them and hence those machines are still in operation longer than in prior cycles.   What that means is that there is still pent up demand for refresh, hungover from the recession.   Flat-lining or even declining revenue reports from hardware manufacturers of late may indicate that machines are not being replaced in sync with previous turnover cycles. In many ways it makes sense to anticipate a steady slog in redeployment.  Not any remarkable change in demand.

I keep an eye on the DJIA,  mostly for the same irrational reason that I get excited to see what came in the mail.  But I realize that the market’s party has not been my own.   The prices of stocks are bubbled and the mere hint that a quarter of a basis point on interest on bonds will collapse the stock market back to more rational valuations tending toward historical means.  Heaven knows what another attack or natural disaster will do to the precarious state of the equities market.

As the baby-boomers pass their estates to the next generation, I expect money to move out of some accounts and into others, resulting in another windfall for Wall Street traders. Sell the old IRA: pay a commission.  Move to an annuity: pay a commission.  So all those billions changing hands will increase consumption and invite inflation as there is no cheaper source of cash than inherited wealth.   Interest rates will rise to check the pent up demand and our economy settles back toward its “best fit” curve of a normal business cycle.

It has been such a long time since we experienced historical cycles that what we really have is short term memories.   Perhaps it’s best to remember that just because it feels like we live in unusual times doesn’t mean that in the long run that recent history is an anomaly.  Just another in the ups and downs that preceded us.

I’ve heard from several colleagues about how quiet it has been for the past few weeks.  There is an underlying fear that we are slipping back into a recession, or as I suspect, already are in one.  We tend to be a good leading indicator but as mentioned before, looking for patterns is dangerous.  I do note the slowdown in the statistics for web visits, but that could also be the constant re-jiggering or algorithms that Google and the other search companies engage in.

In general there seems to be a drawing down of inventory in the marketplace with several formerly abundant items become more scarce.  Prices tend to stay steady until supplies really dry up and then price rises are necessary to incent current users with higher take-out offers to release their older gear.  I don’t see much risk of that in any meaningful way, but it is something to bear in mind.  It is clear that the days of stuffing our inventory to the rafters are behind us.