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Deals Roil European Publishing Landscape

October 28

A series of pending transactions feature a passing of the torch from the hands of huge European media conglomerate owners to those of financial investment partnerships.

Staggering under insupportable debt, French media congolmerate Vivendi is reportably on the brink of selling its venerable American print publisher Houghton Mifflin to an investment group comprised of Thomas H. Lee and Blackstone, among others, for about $1.65 billion.

Bidders report that the auction process has been confusing and poorly conducted, consistent with Vivendi recent management history as it thrashes to maintain control over its dwindling empire, and that Houghton Mifflin's performance has deteriorated. Last week Vivendi agreed to sell its non-US publishing assets to French publisher Lagadèr.

On another front, BertelsmannSpringer, Bertelsmann's giant scientific publishing unit consisting of about 70 publishing houses and subsidiaries serving European countries, the USA and Asia, is said to be in negotiations to sell the business to London-based private equity firms Candover and Cinven.


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