Digital web paper handling and finishing specialist Hunkeler Group is to be ‘merged’ with sheet-fed offset and digital finishing equipment maker Müller Martini Group via the sale of the former to the latter after ‘careful consideration’ by the owner families. The Hunkeler family and Crédit Mutuel Equity have sold all their shares to Müller Martini for an undisclosed price.

The joint statement from the companies says, ‘Hunkeler and Müller Martini have been very close for many years. The long and successful history began during the Second World War, when Hans Müller worked for Hunkeler as a mechanical engineer before setting up his own business in 1946 and founding the company Hans Müller / Grapha. These good relations have been maintained for decades. The local proximity in the Zofingen region and the already existing and successful partnership in the machine and component business form an ideal starting point for even closer cooperation in the future.

‘By joining forces, both companies see great opportunities to bundle their innovation activities and to serve their global customer base even better in the future through joint sales and service activities. The two owner families have therefore decided on this strategic transaction that led to the acquisition of Hunkeler AG by Müller Martini AG.’

Bruno Müller is quoted as saying, ‘The graphic arts industry is constantly changing and regularly calls for new innovations. By combining the key components of the two companies, such as personnel, expertise and technology, we will be able to serve our global clientele even better with innovative solutions in the future.’

The following is attributed to Stefan and Michel Hunkeler: ‘There is a long-standing partnership between Hunkeler and Müller Martini and a regular exchange. The opportunity for the merger is currently greatly beneficial for both partners and our joint customers, as it will result in considerable advantages in a combined enterprise. This is also a strong commitment for the Zofingen region.’

It is not clear what the implications will be for the companies’ separate operations across Europe and beyond, or their relationships with distributors and customers in countries where there are no direct subsidiaries; Hunkeler is distributed in the UK by Friedheim International, for example, while Müller Martini has its own UK operation. The future of the popular and well-attended Hunkeler Innovationdays event, which focuses on high-end inkjet printing systems and was last held in February/March 2023, and not due to recur until early 2025, is also unknown at this point.