Target Report: ‘Just One Word: Plastics’ – Latest M&A Activity

It’s been almost 50 years since the young Dustin Hoffman, in his role as the confused Benjamin in the 1967 movie “The Graduate” was offered sage advice about his future career. In the now famous line, a well-meaning elder, in a solemn tone, advised Benjamin, “Just One Word: Plastics.”

That famous phrase seemed superficial to many at the time; the word “plastic” became a synonym for shallowness or anything perceived as phony to the younger generation of the 60’s and 70’s. However, for the printing and packaging industries, that advice still resonates as technological advancements, such as multi-layer films, UV inks, LED curing systems and other developments continuously improve our ability to print on plastics. It turned out that there was, and still is, a future in plastics.

Printing on plastics, specifically manufacturing plastic cards of all sorts, was the target of Multi Packaging Solutions in its recent acquisition of i3 Plastic Cards. Multi Packaging Solutions, a global print and packaging roll-up that has achieved revenues in excess of $1.6 billion since its founding in 2005, is already a significant player in the market for transactional cards including credit card issuers Visa, MasterCard and American Express. The addition of Dallas-based i3 Plastic Cards adds capacity to produce up to another 2 million cards per day, focused on printing gift and loyalty program cards.

Plasticard Locktech International (PLI) secured a $12.4 million investment, structured as mezzanine debt, from Mosaic Capital Partners to fund its acquisition of Production Services Associates (PSA), a plastic card manufacturer based in Romeoville, Ill. PSA, formerly owned by Spell Capital, specializes in so-called “closed loop” card production; gift cards that can be used at only one brand, such as a Starbucks or Home Depot gift card. Other products produced by PSA include membership cards, loyalty cards (often with a detachable small version of the card for your keychain), coupons and faux credit cards used in marketing solicitations. The acquiring company, PLA, in addition to gift cards, produces addressable plastic keycards used in hotels, resorts, cruise ships, colleges and casinos.

As a bonus for these printing companies, plastic card programs often include additional printed elements, printed on paper or card stock, such as carriers, mailers and cover letters, often personalized. Of critical importance to many of the programs using plastic cards, the cards may have monetary value and require significant security at all stages of production. Card programs often require management of highly sensitive confidential data needed for barcoding, embedded information on magnetic strips and chips, activation, redemption and proper personalization. Maybe that sage advice to that young man, revised if the movie was remade circa 2016, would be, “Just One Word: Data.”
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