Forlorn fable of Hungarian Forte may turn to sweet story
Tuesday, 23, January 2007 04:21:00 PM
A French and a German investor are contemplating to keep the Forte brand name and save the closure-slated Hungarian photo material producer from its fate, local news portal index.hu has reported on Tuesday. Forte is set to close down for good in February and part with its entire staff of some 150 people.
Forte, a maker of black & white film, photographic papers and other photo material since 1922, posted revenues of HUF 1 billion last year while incurring losses of about HUF 150-200 million.
The news portal said Bergger of France and Germany's FilmoTec were interested in keeping up production at Forte, but the Hungarian owner says he has been waiting for a concrete offer for months. The professional investors would retain 80 jobs.
FilmoTec was established in the early 1990s on the ruins of ORWO, a partner of Forte in the German Democratic Republic.
“We have been in talks with investors led by Bergger since November, but we have not received a concrete offer up to date," said János Máté, one of the owners of Forteinvest Kft. (the official name of Forte). The investors would need at least HUF 300 million to fulfil their plans. The Hungarian owners had similar ideas but their tender submitted to the Economics Ministry did not win.
Máté said Forte is a supplier of the foreign companies he has been negotiating with and so they know the companies technologies and have all the information about the operations of Forte. He added, however, that Bergger also wanted to carry out due diligence at the company, while they failed to come up with an offer in three months.
“We are open to any kind of offer, but I feel that if they haven't made one so far, there is little chance they will do now," Máté said.
The potential investors have not yet given up on Forte, said András Váczi, communications director at the Hungarian Trade and Development Agency (ITDH). The Bergger-FilmoTec team would carry on the Forte brand and give job to about 80 employees, while introducing a new, modern technology at the Vác-based plant, he said.
They would bring a new production line and start producing photo papers for digital prints, which would be a partial switch of profile, given that Forte has been famed internationally for its B&W photo materials.
Bergger informed ITDH that they lacked the necessary information to make an offer. ITDH offered its help to both the owners and the potential buyers to carry on with talks in days. Meanwhile, the 22 February deadline (for the closure of Forte) is drawing closer.
Forte in brief
According to Court of Registry data, Forte has a subscribed capital of HUF 405 m.
Private investors based in Csurgó (southwest Hungary) bought the troubled Forte in June 2005 and renamed it Forteinvest Tőkebefektető Kft. While the plant remained in Vác and properties leased in the capital city were retained, the headquarters was moved to Csurgó. This year they posted a profit of HUF 9 million, but in 2006 their balance turned red and the company incurred losses of HUF 150-200 m.
The company's woes were triggered by the fact that two of its largest competitors, major players on the Europan B&W market, a German and a French company, crashed. Their closure companies saw an immense amount of finished products flood the market, which Forte simply could not cope with.
Máté said it would have taken them at least HUF 300 million worth of investment to sit out the depletion of the oversupply.
Bergger in brief
Founded in 1995, Bergger Photographic combined from its inception the talents of chemist engineer Guy Gerard and economist and business expert Daniel Boucher.
Guy Gerard's experience in research and development creating innovative films and papers was perfected during his thirty year tenure at Guilleminot, France's oldest and most respected photographic products resource. The company's closing in the early 90s prompted Gerard to seek out his friend and colleague Daniel Boucher.
Boucher's Ph.D. in economics and talent for business strategy had served him well as manager of the Rothschild Bank, and, coupled with Gerard's technical expertise, would make the unique partnership of Bergger Photographic complete.
Bergger Photographic is proud to be continuing the grand tradition of photographic excellence in the country of the medium's origin. Today, Bergger Photographic is well-known around the world for:
-the industry's finest array of classic silver papers;
-premium black and white films;
-antique and alternative processes products;
-fine darkroom chemistry;
-progressive new inkjet papers.
FilmoTec in brief
FilmoTec GmbH produces a wide range of high quality photographic film at its factory in Wolfen, Germany, at the site where motion picture film has been manufactured since 1910, and where film has been produced under the ORWO brand ever since 1964.
Currently, FilmoTec's product range incorporates black and white negative film for motion picture production, duplicating film, sound recording film and leaders for the processing and distribution business.
Specialised film is also manufactured for bank security, traffic surveillance, and personal identification.
The company further provides a range of support services for inspecting mechanical, optical and photographic facilities and equipment.