Court sides with DOJ in setting Quad trial date

Now set to begin after merger deadline.

Quad/Graphics' Sussex headquarters.

A federal court judge last week sided with the U.S. Department of Justice and set a mid-November trial date for a trial on Quad/Graphics’ proposed acquisition of LSC Communications.

The trial is now set to begin Nov. 14, although a court order noted there are multiple criminal cases during the fall that could take priority.

The DOJ filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois in June seeking to block Sussex-based Quad’s $1.4 billion acquisition of Chicago-based LSC. The department argued that existing pricing battles between the two printing giants show the deal would harm competition.

Joel Quadracci, chairman, president and CEO of Quad, argued that the printing industry is also competing against digital advertising giants like Google and Facebook, noting the printing industry is nearly the same size as the advertising revenue of the two tech companies.

After the lawsuit was filed, Quad and LSC asked for an expedited hearing process to resolve the case before an Oct. 30 deadline included in their merger agreement. Quad faces the possibility of paying LSC $45 million if the deal is not complete by the deadline.

The companies initially sought a September evidentiary hearing, but later proposed a trial starting on Oct. 1. The government originally proposed a trial starting in early December but shifted to mid-November as negotiations continued between the two sides.

DOJ attorneys argued the Oct. 30 deadline is within the companies’ control and they could choose to extend it. Quad and LSC contend they need to either complete the deal by Oct. 30 or “take action separately to adapt to the tectonic shifts in their industry.”

“One year (from announcing the deal) is a very long time in a business where more and more customers are moving their content and advertising to digital platforms, driving down demand for print products,” the companies wrote in a court filing.

In a July 8 letter included in government court filings, DOJ attorneys wrote that the government’s understanding is Quad would not entertain an extension of the deadline and LSC would only consider a short extension with approval by its board of directors.

Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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