Israeli Entrepreneur Raises $300m for Digital Printing Venture Now Valued at $1.8 Billion

German firms’ investment to help expand Israeli company that harnesses nanotechnology

Israeli entrepreneur Benny Landa.
\ Kobi Kalmanovitz

Landa Digital Printing, which is developing and producing printing equipment based on the company’s nanography technology and was founded by longtime printing entrepreneur Benny Landa, announced on Wednesday that it has raised $300 million in equity financing led by the German private investment firm SKion and joined by the Altana chemicals group.

Both are owned by German entrepreneur Susanne Klatten. The injection of funds into Landa Digital Printing was based on a company valuation of $1.8 billion.

Proceeds from the financing will be used for expansion of the company’s infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities, as well as for ongoing research and development and market development, Landa said. Landa told TheMarker that the company has a backlog of orders of about 500 million euros ($580 million).

The investment is in addition to the more than $400 million previously invested himself by Landa, the founder and chairman of the company, and by Altana. Benny Landa continues to be the company’s majority shareholder with 54%. Altana and SKion together now own 46%, with Altana holding 33.3%.

Landa Digital Printing was founded in 2002, by Benny Landa, who had earlier founded Indigo, a global pioneer in the digital printing field that was sold that same year to HP. The twist that Landa Digital Printing has brought to the field is the use of tiny nanoparticles of ink, which make it possible to achieve a sharper and more uniform print result. A decade later, in 2012, the company’s technology was presented at a printing trade fair for the first time, sparking interest from the major players in the field. Until 2014, Landa financed the company’s activities on his own, but that year, Altana made its first investment of about $100 million in the venture.

“After 15 years of development, in the second half of last year, the first machine was delivered to a customer, and this year, we have supplied a second machine to a German customer,” Benny Landa told TheMarker. “Now Indigo is responsible for a half percent of Israel’s GDP, and I hope Landa Digital Printing will add another percent. That’s what’s motivating me. I want to create local employment and to contribute to the country. That’s the top goal,” he said. “We are selling machines for more than 3 million euros [$3.5 million], but beyond that, the company will bring in a lot more money from [sales of] the ink, which is also manufactured in Israel.”

Asked whether the company has plans to issue publicly traded shares, Landa said there was no need for that “at the moment.” Landa Digital Printing is currently the leading company in the Landa Group. The first one to be founded in the group was Landa Labs, which developed Coloright hair fiber optical reader technology, which was sold two years ago to L’Oreal.

Landa Digital Printing, which is based in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv, now has a workforce of about 450. Landa Labs employs another 250 or so. “I think we will be successful in the rest of the fields that we are involved in, not because of me, but due to the excellence of the power of the Israeli employees,” he said. “Some of the ideas come from me and some from our researchers.”

“I think Israeli high-tech industry is in amazing shape. The large funding rounds are pushing the startups ahead, but there are also unnecessary exits. I’m a little concerned about the exits, which are preventing the establishment of major industries in Israel.

“The biggest pride of people of my generation was to say ‘I am an industrialist.’”

Israel is losing out, he claimed, when research and development on a product are carried out in Israel but manufacturing is done elsewhere. “I connect more with companies that carry out their entire production chain in Israel.”

Reuters contributed to this report.