Geoff Selig, a giant of Australia’s print industry, dies at 59

May 06, 2024 at 04:51 pm by admin

‘Unforeseen complications’ following an accident are said to have led to the sudden death of Geoff Selig, executive chairman of Australian printing giant Ive Group and a grandson of its founder.

Selig was on holiday in Barcelona, Spain when the accident happened. A former president of the NSW Liberal Party, he was 59.

In a statement, Ive’s board said Gavin Bell, former chief executive of Herbert Smith Freehills and an independent director, will act as the company’s chairman. “Geoff played a major role, over 40 years, in establishing Ive as Australia’s leading marketing and communications business, in the process, reshaping the landscape of the Australian printing industry.”

Some understatement: Selig was a man of vision who worked his way through the industry, building and buying to create the country’s dominant commercial printing business, and expand it beyond print to the marketing and communications needs of a digital age.

Selig had joined Link Printing, the business established by his grandfather in 1987, first as financial controller and then in management, where he still was when the business was sold to Blue Star a decade later. It was named for The Link, the local newspaper his grandfather Oscar established in Sydney’s Balmain in 1921 after returning from World War I.

With the sale of Blue Star to private equity firm Champ, Geoff Selig rejoined the family in Caxton Web, building it with Wolseley Private Equity, and returning to purchase by then ailing Blue Star's Australian operations and also parts of Geon and STI Lilyfield.

The Ive story also includes that of Melbourne’s Craftsman Press, and embraces those of others including Canberra's National Capital Printing, Merritt Madden Printing and JS McMillan Group in Sydney.

A stock exchange listing in 2015 paved the way for Ive’s key role in the restructuring of Australia’s print industry the following year. A deal in October had merged the Hannan family’s IPMG into PMP (later Ovato), setting the scene for the $100 million December acquisition of Franklin Web by Ive, which also paid a modest $16 million for AIW.

Geoff Selig’s vision in print continued with the 2018 opening of the advanced Franklin Web site in Sydney, and the group’s further diversification in marketing and communications.

Nor would the mergers and acquisitions story be complete without a note about Ovato’s 2022 collapse into administration, with some parts acquired by Ive, the success of which was – as we noted then – “probably the single biggest cause of Ovato’s problems”.

Privately, his family life tended to be just that, private, with Selig the former political activist continuing to champion a variety of causes. His contribution to those, as well as to the printing industry, will be long remembered.

Peter Coleman

Sections: Print business


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