Nov 172006

From the news alert (Friday Nov 17 2006):

US group buys Blackwell Publishing
By Pan Kwan Yuk and Mark Odell
John Wiley & Sons, the US-listed publishing house, on Friday agreed to buy Blackwell Publishing, the Oxford-based academic publisher, for £572m in cash and debt.

The deal may put an end to the long-running feud between the 10 Blackwell family members who control one of Britain’s biggest and best-known privately-held businesses.

Blackwell, which traces its history back to a 12-square foot bookshop opened in 1879 in Oxford, has two businesses: publishing and retailing. The retailing unit is not included in Friday’s deal.

The publishing business is the profit-driver of the group. The most recent figures available show that profits rose to just over £21m in 2004, from £13m a year earlier. The bookshops fell into a loss of almost £7m for the same year, against a profit of £900,000 in 2003.

In 2002, Toby Blackwell, the then 73-year-old former chairman, tried to force a sale after rival publisher Taylor & Francis tabled a £300m bid. But his nephew Nigel, the company’s current chairman, opposed the plan. Toby eventually lost the fight and the firm stayed in family hands.

Commenting on the Wiley deal, Nigel Blackwell said: “Wiley and Blackwell are two great firms sharing the same cultural values, and in particular, a common publishing ethic. Marrying them together makes perfect sense both commercially and for the benefit of the global academic and professional community.”

Wiley, which publishes scientific, technical and medical journals, encyclopaedias and online products, said it had already received irrevocable commitments from the principal Blackwell shareholders.

The transaction is expected to be completed by early 2007.

JP Morgan Cazenove advised Blackwell.

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