Michael Green, formerly one of the big players in ITV, believes that the humble printing industry is going through a digital revolution similar to that experienced in television.
It emerged yesterday that Mr Green, who was ousted in 2003 as chairman-designate of ITV plc, is making an attempt to return in a big way to his business roots in the printing sector, where he made his first fortune. His Tangent Communications is behind a £282m takeover bid for St Ives, which was yesterday rejected because it "significantly undervalues" the company. However the two sides agreed to meet later this week.
Mr Green said: "This is a very exciting industry. It is going from analogue to digital [technology], something I know very well from my days at ITV. Printing is going through a complete sea-change."
He said that computerisation meant that printers were now able to offer customers a much greater range of advanced services.
"Printing presses are now computers with presses attached to them... it is all about data management," Mr Green said.
Tangent, a small operator in the printing sector with a stock market value of £17m, believes that services such as mailshots for direct marketing need to be made more sophisticated. This would mean, for instance, that the mailings are targeted better to the household receiving them.
It is thought that Tangent believes that St Ives is not exploiting the digital opportunities available, and continues to work as an old-fashioned manufacturing business.
Mr Green, who left school with just four O-levels, started a printing business with his brother, making him a millionaire by the age of 21. Then, taking advantage of Thatcherite liberalisation of the commercial television industry in the 1980s, he built his company into a major force in ITV as Carlton Communications.
The crowning glory was supposed to come in 2003 when Carlton agreed to merge with Granada to finally form one ITV company, with Mr Green as chairman. However, a shareholder revolt led to his unceremonious sacking in late 2003.
Since then, Mr Green has re-immersed himself in the printing industry through Tangent, where he works with his two nephews, Nick and Tim.
Mr Green, who has a 45 per cent stake in Tangent, said that he had unsuccessfully tried to buy a number of other printing businesses, including The Stationery Office and FTS, which prints passports. "I like staying in businesses that I know," Mr Green said.
He would have been reminded of another business he knows well last night, when he attended the leaving party for Charles Allen, the former chief executive of ITV and the man who survived the shareholder revolt that ended Mr Green's television career.