Matthew Freud takes over literary agency

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The Independent Culture

The name of Peters Fraser & Dunlop, one of Britain's oldest literary agencies, is set to disappear after the company was taken over by the public relations executive Matthew Freud and agent Michael Foster.

Home to the literary estates of JB Priestley C.S. Forester and V.S. Pritchett, PDF also acts for figures such as Simon Schama, Roger Scruton and Sir Peter Hall. However the agency was hit by a walkout two years ago by many of its leading stars and writers, including Ricky Gervais, Tom Stoppard and Kate Winslet. PFD will become known as The Rights House.

Under the terms of the agreement, Foster will merge his company MF Management with PFD and hold a controlling interest. Foster, who is agent to Chris Evans among others, will be the senior partner at the new company, along with the PFD chief executive, Caroline Michel. Andrew Neil, who headed the consortium that bought PFD in 2008, will step down as chairman and will not retain a stake in the company. Freud, the founder investor in MF Management, will become the largest non-executive shareholder of The Rights House.

The arguments, partly over ownership, pre-dated Michel's arrival as chief executive in 2007, but the situation degenerated, with allegations of breach of contract, unfair dismissal and, most significantly, disputed ownership of back catalogues of books from some of literature's best- known names.