Xerox Corp., long a regional icon and one-third of Rochester’s one-time Big Three employers, settled rumors on Wednesday by announcing that the document company has agreed to merge with longstanding partner Fujifilm Holdings Corp.
The $6.1 billion deal will give Fujifilm 50.1 percent ownership of the combined company, to be known as Fuji Xerox. Xerox shareholders will receive a $2.5 billion special cash dividend, or roughly $9.80 per share, funded from the combined company’s balance sheet, and will own 49.9 percent of the company.
The Xerox/Fujifilm partnership dates to 1962 when the two companies agreed to a 50/50 joint venture in order to develop, produce and sell xerographic and document-related products and services in the Asia-Pacific region. Fujifilm raised its stake in the company to 75 percent in 2001. Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd. is headquartered in Tokyo.
“Fujifilm and Xerox have fostered an exceptional partnership through our existing Fuji Xerox joint venture, and this transaction is a strategic evolution of our alliance. The Document Solutions business represents a significant part of Fujifilm’s portfolio, and the creation of the new Fuji Xerox allows us to more directly establish a leadership position in a fast-changing market,” said Shigetaka Komori, chairman and chief executive of Fujifilm, in a statement. “We believe Fujifilm’s track record of advancing technology in innovative imaging and information solutions—especially in inkjet, imaging, and AI areas—will be important components of the success of the new Fuji Xerox.”
Separately on Wednesday, Fujifilm announced it would slash 10,000 jobs globally at the Fuji Xerox subsidiary, which last year employed more than 45,000 people.
“The market environment surrounding the company’s subsidiary Fuji Xerox has grown increasingly severe,” Fujifilm said in a statement.
It is unclear if the job cuts will affect Xerox’s nearly 4,000 local staffers, hundreds of whom are being relocated from the company’s former headquarters downtown to its Webster campus in the coming months.
“It’s hard for me to imagine that those 10,000 jobs will come purely from the joint venture’s 45,000, and none from Xerox’s 34,000,” said Brighton Securities Chairman George Conboy. “If the combined concern will have 75,000 employees, I think it’s reasonable to expect the combined concern will see a 15 percent haircut in employment. It will not fall evenly on every location or every division. But to think that in Rochester we’re going to escape the knife, I think is unrealistic.
“This deal has managed to preserve jobs of senior management, while cutting loose a solid 15 percent of the company’s workforce,” Conboy added.
But Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said everything he had heard so far about the merger was positive.
“Combining the two is going to maximize the strengths of both,” Duffy said. “And while the recent move from downtown to Webster was not great for downtown office space occupancy, the great news is the jobs stayed here. And we want to do everything we can to keep those jobs here and growing.”
The new Fuji Xerox will have dual headquarters in Norwalk, Conn., and in Minato, Tokyo, with a presence in more than 180 countries. The combined company will go to market and maintain the iconic “Xerox” and “Fuji Xerox” brands within its respective operating regions.
“The proposed combination has compelling industrial logic and will unlock significant growth and productivity opportunities for the combined company, while delivering substantial value to Xerox shareholders,” Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson said. “The new Fuji Xerox will be better positioned to compete in today’s environment with truly global scale, increased presence in fast-growing markets, and innovation capabilities to effectively meet our customers’ rapidly-evolving demands. In addition, the combined company’s strong financial profile will enable investments that support continued market leadership, while also providing opportunities for increasing capital returns over time.”
Duffy said he will work with Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to advocate and support the local Xerox facility.
“We’re hoping with the combined R&D and technology expertise the company will grow strong,” Duffy said. “We don’t want to see job reductions here at all. We’d love to see jobs increase.”
For that to happen, he added, local business and community leaders must support the home-grown company.
“Rochester often has a tendency of lamenting when companies leave or reduce, but often not being there to help them when they’re in business,” Duffy explained. “If we ignore that then we really don’t have the right to complain when those jobs are reduced.”
Dinolfo said Xerox holds a special place in Rochester history.
“I am hopeful that the company’s future here remains strong,” she said. “I have contacted Xerox and Chamber of Commerce President Bob Duffy to learn more about this merger and to extend Monroe County’s assistance in whatever way necessary. Moving forward, the County will continue to monitor the situation closely and will be prepared to act in the event local jobs are impacted.”
Duffy also said he’d like to see Xerox move its U.S. headquarters back to Rochester.
“I’d love to see it all here at some point and I’ve not gotten a reaction from that yet, but I’ve talked to at least two CEOs in my memory making that pitch,” he said. “I will continue to make that pitch.”
Upon close of the transaction, Jacobson will serve as chief executive officer of the new Fuji Xerox.
The combined company’s Board of Directors will include 12 members, seven of whom will be appointed by the Fujifilm Board. Five independent directors will be appointed from the Xerox Board. Komori will serve as chairman of the board.
“The merger of the two companies into the joint venture isn’t a deal that’s coming from a place of strength,” Conboy said. “It’s a deal coming from a place where these companies are consolidating to deal with a market that has been at best flat over the last several years.”
Jacobson in recent weeks has come under fire as two of Xerox’s largest shareholders called for both his ousting and increased transparency.
“He is neither qualified nor capable of successfully running this company, let alone negotiating a major strategic transaction that will do more than save his own job,” said Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason in a joint statement last week.
The new Fuji Xerox deal comes less than a year after Fujifilm acknowledged improper accounting standards at the subsidiary, which resulted in a $341 million adjustment to six years’ net profits and the resignation of Fuji Xerox Chairman Tadahito Yamamoto.
“Today’s announcement follows a comprehensive review of our strategic and financial alternatives led by Xerox’s independent directors that began after the separation of Conduent in 2016,” Xerox Chairman Robert Keegan said in a statement. “Upon careful consideration of all alternatives available to the company, the board of directors concluded that this combination is clearly the best path to create value for our shareholders. An attractive, certain cash dividend, together with participation in the future success of the combined company, presents a compelling value equation for Xerox shareholders. We are excited to strengthen our longstanding relationship with Fujifilm as we enter the next phase of Xerox’s transformation journey.”
The combined company will drive sales of $18 billion, officials said, and is expected to deliver at least $1.7 billion in total annual cost savings by 2022, with roughly $1.2 billion of the total cost savings expected to be achieved by 2020.
The new company expects to incur approximately $1.4 billion in one-time integration and restructuring costs, mainly in the first three years. The deal is expected to close some time in the second half of 2018.
Shares of Xerox stock (NYSE: XRX) were trading up more than 7 percent at $35.13 in heavy morning trading.
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