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Sandy Maier-chaired Geon Group in receivership

Hundreds of jobs are at risk after receivers and administrators were appointed to commercial print group Geon Group.

The Companies Office noted the appointment, made by the board of directors, this afternoon.

The group is chaired by Sandy Maier, well known as trying to rescue South Canterbury Finance from collapse in 2010. 

Geon, which at its peak employed 390 people in New Zealand and hundreds more in Australia, used to be known as Pacific Print. It prints catalogues and marketing material and does mailout campaigns in both countries.

NBR understands PPB Advisory have been appointed administrators.

However, the future of the company lies with McGrath Nicol, who have been appointed receivers by US-based private equity firm KKR, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Maier was not immediately available for comment.

The receivership is further bad news for the printing industry and follows the downfall of transTasman giant Blue Star, which was broken up and sold off in parts. 

Formerly Pacific Print Group, Geon's roots trace back to Napier where the company was founded in 1978. Its print work ranges from magazines and letterheads, labels and brochures to general commercial work and greeting cards - which are exported to the US.

The company relocated to Australia in 2004 before Gresham Private Equity took a 50% stake in 2007.

KKR and Australian-based private equity firm Allegro Funds have owned Geon Group for less than six months having bought it from Lloyds Banking Group as part of a portfolio of distressed loans worth $350 million. 

The group has not filed accounts in New Zealand for three years, when it  posted net loss of $183 million for the year to June 2009, after writing down $100 million of goodwill.

More by Duncan Bridgeman

Comments and questions

Another printing company bites the dust.

Wow anonymous. I'm glad I skipped the article and went straight to your comment.

Blue Star was sold as a running business. It was not a downfall, but the best thing to happen for Blue Star in NZ for years...

Best regards go out to all the GEON staff. I hope this is light at the end of the tunnel!

Tell that to all the people who lost their money after beiing told it would all come right!

Not before time - Happy hunting for all of the smaller print companies in NZ.

Unfortunately, inevitable and I wish the majority of the GEON staff all the best and hope you find a less toxic place to work.
Totally orchestrated by inept management.

About time.

Another of Sandy Maier's great achievements.

A warning to other print companies - Do not touch the existing management team.

What about the board?

Receivership was the best option for GEON. Blue Star would have gone the same way had it not been for the Directors managing to remove the monies and rights from the Mum and Dad Bond holders.

Mr Maier is reknowned for 'rescuing' failing companies.

If Geon didn't file accounts for three years then the Companie's Office needs to investigate and it seems likely there was a breach of fiduciary duties by Mr Maier and his fellow directors.

Ex Geon - Burned by Geon: My guess is you were let go for a very good reason and are too blind to see it. There are many good, hard working people employed by and managing Geon, I wish them only luck and know that whatever the outcome they will do just fine.

I feel stupid for feeling so shocked, but this has been a long time in the making.

Well done Geon board of directors.

My heart goes out to all the GEON Staff. I know the feeling of what you may be going thru. Maybe Wellington can be sold as a going concern. Good luck to you all

Gee, bad for all the staff but good to see gone, gone.

Best of luck to all the employees, especially those of you in Tasmania. This has been coming for a long time!

Sorry for the great print team on the floor. Far as the boss, WHO CARES!

maybe they should have taken on board the advise and systems implemented by the Van Wierens that built such a profitable well organised company instead of ripping the s_ _ t out of it.

We only hear about the companies Mr Maier is part of that fail.

Does anyone know in any companies survived?

A quick search of comes up with quite a few companies Sandy is currently a director of which appear to be quite successful. Amazing the power of the internet...

- Mighty River Power
- Ngai Tahu Holdings Limited
- Perpetual Capital Management Limited
- Fronde Systems Group Limited
- RECT Funds Management Limited
- PowerByProxi Limited
- Pathfinder Asset Management Limited
- Innova Products Limited
- McConnell Limited
- Learning Media Limited
- Lumley General Insurance (NZ) Limited

As a turnaround guy you'd expect a few of Sandy's assignments to go bad - nature of the job. But ask yourself why companies which are struggling want Sandy to become (or continue to be) involved? Surely not because he is good at what he does? I guess you'd have to know the guy personally to work that out, though - easier just to bag him anonymously. It's a pity bloggers don't do due diligence before sharing their views...

They will be back in business in no time with lower costs and overheads .Watch this space !

How is it possible to not file accounts for three years and not be struck off by the Companies Office?

Exactly. And if you don't file accounts the board was in breach of its directors duties to prepare annual financial statement per the Companies Act 1993.

Sandy has a knack for steering companies into troubled waters.

Best thing to happen to the industry in a long time! Been a plague on the industry for many years. This is what happens when you actively undercut the rest of the industry! Hopefully no one will lend them any money to continue trading as they haven't learned from their mistakes in the past!

You have a total disregard for the employees and their families making comments like that!

What , no politicans on the Board ??

Printing is one of those dangerous businesses that changes quickly and it is hard to survive in. Brebner Print could probably have survived before being gobbled up by Pacific Print - that is when I left.
I feel sorry for the staff (many of whom I knew) you have no control over the decisions of the directors and the business structure.
I would be surprised if every plant stopped entirely though - look at all the print companies that clear their debt by selling cheaply before restarting again under another banner....

Agree with Very happy. Unfortunately, Geon has just placed an order with my company. Lucky it's not been printed yet so I won't be suppling them without money up front. Hopefully, the other print companies will now start making some money now these clowns are gone.

Heard the paper guys were trying to pick up all the stock today. Can't print without paper

Very happy - You can't be serious "Been a plague on the industry for many years. This is what happens when you actively undercut the rest of the industry!" In my experiance we at GEON and, yes, I still work for GEON, have been trying to match "market pricing" from both small and large competitors. Obviously, GEON is not innocent when it comes to the level of "market" pricing out there but surely we (the print industry) are all to blame for devaluing our service/product offer.
We, the staff, certainly don't deserve to be slagged off by the likes of you when the majority of us turn up to work and work bloody hard.

As an ex-GEON client who has recently been on the winning side of "market pricing" to the detriment of Geon, I can only support Trying to Survive's comment above. Unfortunately, business is business and an offer to save a third on your print costs will test anyone's loyalty. It's a tough game. I only hope my new supplier can match the service levels that Geon's quality people have delivered over the years. And that the new debt-free Phoenix that arises will establish even lower market prices.

I wonder how big the board's golden parachutes were? (NB SCF).

Paper merchants please don't agree to supply the new operators of GEON if its sold. They have left a huge scare on the industry. Best wishes to the great staff they had. Everybody raise your prices.

Think paper merchants trying to get paper back. These guys will be dead in the water by Tuesday. Don't think they will supply them paper or inks any more. Big losses all round. Feel bad for everyone - suppliers and staff. Good one, Captain Morgan.

What makes you think that even if GEON does go the prices will fall? You all compete against yourselves. GEON is just a part of it. Everyone will still undercut everyone else to get the work.
This is what happens in a dying industry...

Totally agree re under cutting. Its like the fat kid getting picked on in the play ground'- once they have gone home (or lose weight) they find someone else to pick on.
It is pipe dream to expect prices to rise as a result of Geon's possible implosion.
This is far from over, Geon will survive in some shape or form. Once one supplier decides to provide others will follow, that is the nature of business in a competitive market.
Tuesday will be D-Day....

I can see why some are ex-Geon employers. I'd seriously hate to be working with some of you if you. Such nasty and negative bunch of people in the industry from the looks of it. You realise a lot of people will be in serious hardship now because of this. All print companies undercut each other to get jobs - pot full of kettles calling each other black. Already Geon are getting some of you calling our clients trying to undercut each other for the business. Can't see prices being raised that way. F-tards!

What did you expect from your competition - Too late to cry wolf now.

Having been in business on our own account for 34 years I believe I am in a position to comment on this private equity print business trading. We have had 24-26 years of stability and profitable trading. Since these over-geared, over-managed equities have been operating they have caused nothing but grief. First, they geared up with the latest and greatest equipment, had the suppliers all running around trying to sell them more and the paper merchants cutting their paper prices to sell them more and to hell with the hard-working privately owned-family companies.
Outcome: good workers/staff but not senior management are the ones to suffer. To compete we have had to drop prices to the point of near to nil returns. Our equipment is worn out so let's hope that for the future of the sheetfed printing industry we can now secure the future for our staff and maybe some of those workers who may be put out of a job. More profits and well-run companies means a better secure future. Please do not be afraid to put your name to what you believe in.

Well said Bob, good effort.

There is much comment about the 1200 people who will lose their jobs if they are shut, what about the tens of thousands in the industry and related who will lose theirs if they are allowed to continue. Obviously, the market isn't big enough for us all and we owner-operators who have now sold the house, bach, car, boat and building to fund the onslaught that GEON started and we all had to join will be able to start building back up again and make this a healthy, tech forward industry it's always been. If 2008 hadn't happened around the world it may be that GEON and the other BS would have worked, but it's all about timing.