Regulators Block Jostens’ Planned $486M Acquisition

The Federal Trade Commission voted to block Jostens’ planned acquisition of American Achievement Group Holding Corporation; Jostens abandoned the deal, saying that fighting regulators would be costly.

Several months after Edina-based Jostens announced plans to acquire a competitor for $486 million, the company has announced that federal regulators have moved to block the deal, and it’s terminating the transaction as a result.

Jostens—which manufactures class and professional sports rings (including recently unveiled World Series rings)—said in November that it had signed a definitive agreement to purchase Austin, Texas-based American Achievement Group Holding Corporation—the parent company of several brands, including ArtCarved, Balfour, Keepsake, and Taylor Publishing. The parties said at the time that they expected the deal to close by the end of this year's second quarter.

But Jostens said late last week that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to block the proposed deal. The company said that an FTC investigation, which focused on class rings, has been ongoing since November.

The FTC said it believed the planned acquisition “would likely have been anticompetitive and led to higher prices and reduced service for both high school and college students who buy class rings.” As a result, the FTC voted in favor of asking a federal court to halt the deal.

Jostens, meanwhile, voiced its disagreement. Marc Reisch, president and CEO of Jostens’ parent company Visant, said in a statement that his company is “extremely disappointed with the FTC's decision,” adding that the businesses “fundamentally disagree with the basis on which the FTC made its decision.”

“We continue to believe that based on current industry dynamics the combination would not have an adverse effect on competition and that the significant synergies and operating efficiencies from the proposed transaction would contribute to the competitive landscape,” Reisch continued. “However, entering into a protracted litigation with the FTC and the inherent cost and distraction is not in the best interests of our stakeholders.”

But regulators called the move a win for consumers. “The parties’ abandonment of the transaction preserves competition for consumers in the markets for class rings, which are an important memento for millions of high school and college graduates across the country,” Deborah Feinstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement.