Lexmark exploring a sale? Company won't say

Lexmark International, one of the Lexington area's largest employers, is exploring options including a possible sale of the company, according to widespread media reports.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article Thursday saying that Lexmark, which makes printers, enterprise software and hardware and employs about 2,300 people in Lexington, is working with the investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on the process. The report did not name any sources for the information.

The sale speculation was later picked up by media outlets including Reuters and by broadcast outlets such as CNBC on Twitter.

Lexmark employs about 12,700 worldwide.

Lexmark stock spiked before the stock exchange closed on Thursday on speculation about a sale. The stock closed at $32.99 a share, up $1.93, or more than six percent.

"We don't comment on rumors or speculation," Lexmark spokesman Jerry Grasso said Thursday afternoon.

He said that speculation about a sale is nothing new.

Grasso sent an e-mail with a link to a 2010 Forbes article with the headline: "Is Lexmark the Printing World's Most Eligible Bachelor?"

The company will report its most recent earnings on Oct. 27.

Keith Kmetz of IDC in Framingham, Mass., a market research and consulting firm, said that rumors about selling companies happen frequently with technology businesses, although he had heard nothing specifically about Lexmark.

"Could somebody be looking at Lexmark, or Lexmark doing something to put itself out there?" Kmetz said. "It's always a possibility. It happens across the industry all the time."

Lexmark has pursued a strategy of moving its business base into a more comprehensive business services model, focusing on helping companies capture and organize information throughout all processes, rather than centering on printing technology and products.

The strategy has led to numerous recent acquisitions, including ReadSoft of Sweden; AccessVia of Seattle; Twistage of San Francisco; Pacsgear of Pleasanton, Calif.; Acuo Technologies of Minneapolis; Pallas Athena of the Netherlands; Saperion of Germany; ISYS Software of Australia; Brainware of Luxembourg; and Nolij Corp. of Beverly, Mass.

In March, Lexmark made its most expensive acquisition ever, paying $1 billion for California-based Kofax Ltd., a move the company hoped would increase the competitive edge of Perceptive Software unit.

However, the company in July announced a restructuring that eliminated 500 jobs worldwide. CEO and chairman Paul Rooke said the effect of the layoffs in Lexington would be "nominal."