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Lexmark considers a break up

Breaking up the business is the new black, it seems, as Lexmark reportedly considers divesting either its hardware or software assets

Printing services company Lexmark is reported to be following in the footsteps of HP and Symantec by considering splitting its business.

According to reports from Reuters, which cited unnamed sources ‘familiar with the matter’, the printer firm is considering divesting either its hardware or software assets, in order to ‘revive interest in its sale process’.

Lexmark announced in October that it was exploring the possibility of a complete sale, amongst a range of ‘strategic alternatives’, and had hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser.

However, according to the latest reports, discussions with potential buyers have so far broken down, due to differing valuation expectations.

The news that Lexmark is toying with the idea of selling off one of its primary divisions has subtle tones of irony to it. The print giant has spent the past few years aggressively diversifying its portfolio by pushing into the software market. Last year it acquired Kofax, a company which provides data services to healthcare, financial and insurance companies, for roughly $1bn.

Lexmark had hoped that the Kofax deal would transform its enterprise software division into a $700m business. It snapped up document management firm ReadSoft the year before that, with similar ambitions in mind.

Despite software being the fastest growing segment of Lexmark, it remains dwarfed by the hardware side of the business. Selling either side of the business will effectively Tipp-Ex out much of the hard work put into decreasing the organisation’s reliance on printing hardware.

Adding to the irony, Lexmark itself is the result of a similar sell-off. In 1990, IBM decided it wanted out of the printer business and the assets were sold to private investment firm, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, giving birth to Lexmark.

The Lexington, Kentucky based firm has placed increased emphasis on its channel ecosystem in recent years. Earlier this year, Lexmark launched its MPS core programme, with the aim of taking the heavy lifting out of managed print services.

Lexmark has – so far - remained tight lipped, stating that it does not comment on speculation.

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