Israeli-Canadian Entrepreneur Raises $130m for Digital-print Startup

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From Indigo to Landa: Israeli entrepreneur Benny Landa returns to the forefront of printing technology.Credit: Kobi Kalmanovitz

Benny Landa, the Israeli-Canadian technology entrepreneur whose Indigo brought digital printing to the world, has raised 100 million euros ($130 million) for his latest digital-printing startup.

Landa Corporation said Wednesday that the German specialty chemicals group Altana would invest the money in exchange for an unspecified minority stake in Landa Digital Printing, a subsidiary of Landa Corporation that has developed a proprietary printing technology called Nanography.

“Both companies see the agreement not only as a financial investment, but also as a starting point for a long-term strategic partnership to bring digital printing solutions to the commercial, packaging and publishing markets,” the companies said.

The proceeds will be used to build manufacturing plants in Israel for the printers and inks, as well as for further development of Nanography, Landa’s water-based digital printing process.

Landa told TheMarker that the plant would be built in Israel, even though a German company was investing in the company. “One of my conditions for any investors is strategic support for continuing manufacturing in Israel,” he said.

Landa said Altana, which has 1.8 billion euros in sales last year from chemicals such as ink supplements and pigments, would be bringing industry and market experience as well as manufacturing expertise tos his company as it expands globally.

Neither side indicated how much Landa Digitial Printing was valued in the transaction, but two years ago Landa sought to raise $150 million to $200 million in a fundraising round that valued the company at as much as $1 billion and later sought to raise debt, but neither plan came to fruition. As a result, Landa has been financing the company for the past decade from his private funds.

“We’ve received orders of about $1 billion, but until now I’ve been financing everything alone. It’s not reasonable to continue this way,” Landa said on Wednesday.

“We could have recruited financial investors. But financial investors aren’t people who would understand the industry and would sit on the board without contributing any added value,” he told TheMarker. “You need to take care of them constantly instead of managing the company. I preferred an investor that understands the business and can bring added value to the board.”

Landa formed Landa Corporation in 2002, two years after he sold his original digital printing business, Indigo, to HP for $830 million.

Landa said that for now there were no plans for an initial public offering or other fundraising. “Our mission now is to supply the products to our customers,:” he said.

Landa Digital Printing, which employs 200 people in Rehovot, introduced its first product at the Drupa printing industry trade show in 2012 in Germany. It won hundreds of orders at the time worth some $1 billion, with each printing press selling for between $1 million and $3 million.

Since then it has done no other marketing and has put off its commercial launch by two years, so that the first printers will only be delivered to customers in 2015.

“An order backlog doesn’t put money into our pockets, so we need an investor to help us build the printer and ink plants and complete development,” Landa explained. “We’re hoping that the money we raised now will bring us to profitability.”