Comment by Andreas Weber, Head of Value | German version
A little over a year after the spin-off of Xerox and Conduent, there is now going to be a new “marriage of convenience”. Xerox Corporation and Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd. will be merged and Fujifilm Holding will take a majority holding. This will result in “The New Fuji Xerox”, a global Group with an expected turnover of 18 billion US dollars. An agreement to that effect was reached and published on 31 January, 2018.
Fuji Xerox was originally founded in 1962 as a joint enterprise of Xerox and Fujifilm, in order to give Xerox better market access and good growth opportunities in Asia, Asia Pacific and especially in Japan and China. In 2000, during Xerox’s serious existential crisis, the entire China business of Xerox was sold to Fujifilm. Over the years the old Fuji Xerox evolved dynamically from a trading company into an innovative technology developer, whose products Xerox now also marketed and almost equaled the turnover of today’s Xerox Corporation.
Act of desperation or stroke of genius?
According to his own statement, the new “old” Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson is still in office and had come under severe pressure in recent months (which is clearly perceptible in his somewhat unwise video post about the Fujifilm agreement). Major shareholder Carl Icahn had led vicious attacks and publicly branded Jacobson and his management team failures. Icahn appeared concerned that Xerox would meet the same fate as Kodak. Has the situation now been improved by the merger? It is still too early to say for certain. One thing’s for sure, however; the short and medium-term focus is on consolidation and cost savings in the billions. As a result, “The New Fuji Xerox” is better armed against some very strong competitors, especially Canon. Growth will not initially be possible. It has already been announced that around 10,000 employees of the old Fuji Xerox will lose their jobs.
UPDATE: CARL ICAHN AND DARWIN DEASON RELEASED ON FEBRUARY 12th, 2018 AN OPEN LETTER TO XEROX SHAREHOLDERS.
Key message: To put it simply, the current Board of Directors has overseen the systematic destruction of Xerox, and, unless we do something, this latest Fuji scheme will be the company’s final death knell. We urge you – our fellow shareholders – do not let Fuji steal this company from us. There is still tremendous opportunity for us to realize value on our own if we bring in the right leadership.
Selected comments by public media
- Gizmodo: “Xerox is the poster child for monopoly technology businesses that cannot make the transition to a new generation of technology,” —Harvard Business School’s David B. Yoffie told the paper.
- New York Times : “After Era That Made It a Verb, Xerox, in a Sale, Is Past Tense”.
- REUTERS: “The joint venture accounts for nearly half of Fujifilm’s sales and operating profit. Both companies have struggled with slow sales of photocopy products, as businesses increasingly go paperless.”
“The New Fuji Xerox” will have to continue struggling with old problems. Instead of a clear vision, they stick to defending the status quo (‘box selling’) and provide no discernible ground-breaking innovations which can inspire markets and investors and are superior to competitive products.
In addition, there are decrepit structures and, at least in the old Xerox world, a worrying lack of customer contact. The feeling is that too many Xerox employees are working in staff roles and are not adding value with their work or actually dealing with the needs of the customer. In addition, in Europe the Xerox Europe headquarters in the UK is getting really top heavy, is riddled with masses of administrative staff and its market relevance is completely diffused.
But: Where there’s life, there’s hope. The major asset of Xerox as well as Fuji Xerox is that there are still a lot of capable employees who could take the helm if they were allowed to. These are experts who are competent in dealing with software, workflows, multi-channel solutions, artificial intelligence and much more. It is to be hoped for their sake that “The New Fuji Xerox” honors this and comes to the fore to enthuse customers again.
Predicted structure of the new Fuji Xerox organization
Message from the CEO
Please note: more facts are listed on a special website: http://www.thenewfujixerox.com
Letter to the Shareholders of 7 March 2018
In an 11-page letter, Xerox management commented in detail to shareholders on March 7, 2018, on the merits of merging with Fuji Xerox resp. Fujifilm. (Letter is attached as a PDF via slideshow),
It should be noted that in the age of customer experience and customer centricity, any benefits that could arise for Xerox customers are addressed with no syllable. Too bad. First of all, it expresses that the focus is on Xerox at Group level to deal with himself; and second, the opportunity is missed to make a name for itself among the shareholders and investors as a forward-looking and customer-oriented company.
About Andreas Weber, Founder and CEO of Value Communication AG
Since more than 25 years Andreas Weber serves on an international level as a business communication analyst, influencer and transformer. His activities are dedicated to the ‘Transformation for the Digital Age’ via presentations, management briefings, coachings, workshops, analysis&reports, strategic advice. Contact: LinkedIn-Profile