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Ifra, NAA join forces to create joint venture company

Press release from the issuing company

Darmstadt / Vienna, VA (May 2003) - After years of cooperating on a number of industry initiatives, Ifra and the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) have officially intensified their cooperation by creating NAA/Ifra Technical Solutions LLC, a new joint venture operation providing training, consulting, research, and events for North American publishers. NAA/Ifra Technical Solutions LLC, which will be based at NAA's headquarters in Vienna, Virginia, U.S.A., will focus on cutting-edge issues and technologies for the newspaper industry, and especially for NAA and Ifra members. As a result of the joint venture, NAA's 1800 newspaper members in North America become members of Ifra, which has 2000 members worldwide, and reap the full benefits of that membership. "We have known for quite some time that there has been a demand for Ifra's services in the U.S. market," said Reiner Mittelbach, CEO of Ifra. "With this joint venture, we really bring together two strong brands to make an attractive offer to this dynamic market. It combines a strong technical brand in Ifra with a strong national brand in NAA. It will establish and offer those technical services that are requested and desired by the newspaper industry in North America." Ifra and the NAA have worked together in past years on a number of projects and initiatives, such as the International Newspaper Color Quality Club competition, the International Technical Affairs Committee and recently with the new AdsML initiative. A more focused alliance seemed the natural next step in their partnership. "The new company gives NAA an efficient, cost-effective way to provide services and events to its members that it does not do presently on its own," said John Sturm, NAA president and CEO. "For Ifra, the new company offers a wonderful opportunity to establish its brand and expand its reach in partnership with the leading trade association serving the newspaper industry in North America. The new company is a 'win-win' for both organisations, but more importantly for the industry." Thomas R. Norton, former vice president of operations at the York (Pennsylvania, U.S.A.) Newspaper Co., has been named managing director of NAA/Ifra Technical Solutions LLC, and joined Sturm and Mittelbach at the official signing ceremony on May 9. Norton and his four-person team will be responsible for developing the various programmes and actitivies of the new business. NAA technology experts joining the joint venture are John Iobst, vice president; Bill Babiarz, manager; Annie Loftus, technology analyst; and Sandra Trunell, administrative assistant. "Tom brings an exceptional background in newspaper production and operations that is well-suited to lead this new entity," said Sturm. "We are confident he will be an effective leader in providing NAA members access to a greater number of services aimed at improving newspaper operations and technology." Norton spent more than 13 years at the York Newspaper Co., and prior to that, was production director at The York Dispatch. He also has managed production at the Daily Record in Morristown, New Jersey, and The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania "This new venture will be challenged by bringing numerous facets of technology to the forefront," Norton said. "While researching the cutting edge, we will also listen intently to our members to see what it is they want from us. With this information, our team will respond with the solutions needed to run newspapers effectively." Mittelbach and Sturm will serve in supervisory roles for the new company as a Management Board, and there also will be an Advisory Committee, which will consist of the NAA Technical Committee and three members from the Ifra Operations Committee. The two associations said Ifra technology experts will assist and participate in the various events, trainings, seminars, and consulting projects, but it is not planned for Ifra personnel to join the new company's permanent staff. The two associations' premier annual exhibitions, NEXPO and IfraExpo, will not be affected by the joint venture. "IfraExpo will continue to belong only to Ifra, and NEXPO will continue to belong only to the NAA," said Mittelbach. "These events are separate. We will cross-promote the events, but that is the extent of it." Additional information concerning training and consulting services for NAA and Ifra members will be unveiled at the NEXPO/SuperConference 2003, to be held June 16-19 in Las Vegas. More information can be found online at www.technical-solutions.org, by calling (703) 902-1900, or via e-mail to [email protected]