Lexmark to sell inkjet printer assets to Funai for $100 million

Logo behind reception desk at Lexmark in Lexington, Ky.,
Logo behind reception desk at Lexmark in Lexington, Ky., Lexington Herald-Leader

Lexington-based Lexmark International announced Monday it will sell its inkjet printer assets to Japanese electronics firm Funai for $100 million.

The sale includes more than 1,500 U.S. and foreign patents, as well as Lexmark's ink manufacturing operations in the Philippines.

Lexmark makes its own ink and toner, but the company works with manufacturers to produce its printer hardware. Funai has manufactured inkjet printers for Lexmark since 1997, and "the companies have established a strong relationship over that time," according to a statement from Lexmark.

"The acquisition of the inkjet-related technology and assets enables Funai to start and grow our own inkjet business," Funai CEO Tomonori Hayashi said in a statement. "Funai will benefit from the strong inkjet business platform that Lexmark has established."

Funai also manufactures televisions, as well as DVD and Blu-ray products.

The deal comes after Lexmark announced last August it would gradually shut down its inkjet operations, which accounted for only 15 percent of overall revenue in the fourth quarter.

The announcement came a few years after the company stopped producing inkjet printers aimed at home consumers because customers weren't printing enough to meet profit expectations. Instead, the company had used the inkjet technology to complement its laser printer lines aimed at businesses.

But the move to inkjets for businesses wasn't profitable enough, leading to the decision last August to lay off 1,700 employees worldwide over a couple of years. The bulk of those being cut, about 1,100 people, were overseas workers employed in the production of inkjet cartridges. An additional 350 were full-time employees at Lexmark's Lexington headquarters, where 200 contractors also are being cut.

The majority of the layoffs in Lexington have been completed, and Lexmark is not reducing its workforce in Lexington as part of Monday's announcement, said spokesman Jerry Grasso.

Going forward, Funai will manufacture ink that Lexmark will buy to sell under its own brand name to customers using existing Lexmark printers.

Lexmark will continue to provide technical and warranty support for its existing customers, according to the statement.

The sale is expected to close during the first half of the year.