Taylor Corp. Buys G. Neil from Bankrupt Parent

Nearly a year after its parent company Centis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Sunrise, FL-based human resources cataloger G. Neil Cos. was sold to $250 million Taylor Corp. for $34.73 million in cash and the rest in assumed liabilities. Taylor, a North Mankato, MN-based specialty printing company, also owns the Current and Paper Direct catalogs. The deal, which closed on May 14, was essentially a sale of assets in bankruptcy, according to New York-based investment bank SSG Capital Advisors, which advised Centis. The G. Neil assets were sold as a going concern for total consideration in excess of $40 million, resulting from a Section 363 auction in April.

Burdened by excessive debt, the Brea, CA-based signage and office products manufacturer/marketer Centis filed for Chapter 11 on July 31, 2002. In addition to G. Neil, the $155 million Centis owns a wholesale division and three other catalogs, Century Business Solutions, Century Photo Products, and Light Impressions, which are all still for sale. Centis sold its consumer products division to Esselte Holdings in March.

Sunrise, FL-based G. Neil, which employs about 350 workers, sells human resources products and services, including signage, motivational gifts, and employee records software. The company was acquired in 1998 by Centis, which was then known as 20th Century Plastics. G. Neil mails 35 million catalogs a year and carries more than 2,500 products.

“G. Neil attracted substantial interest from strategic and financial buyers because of its tremendous brand recognition, high margin products, and impressive management team,” says Allyson DeMatteo, managing director for SSG Capital Advisors. “Despite the various external factors affecting revenues in the direct marketing industry, we are pleased to have closed this transaction at a healthy multiple of earnings.”

Taylor, which was founded in 1951, operates about 80 companies in Australia, Europe, and North America. Its subsidiaries print wedding invitations, Post-it Notes, and graduation announcements. The company also owns greeting card company Current and offers direct marketing, office supplies, and online sales of printed products.

“Taylor is a great buyer” for G. Neil, says Claire Gruppo, managing director of New York-base investment bank Gruppo, Levey & Co., “because it’s already in the business of selling personalized paper products through its Current and Paper Direct brands. I suspect that G. Neil will somehow get folded into that business.”

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