Cassell books a float ahead of expansion

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The Independent Online
CASSELL, the book publisher, plans a flotation in the summer by way of a share placing that will be a prelude to further significant expansion, writes Terence Wilkinson.

The company, which owns Ward Lock and Victor Gollancz, is expected to have a stock market capitalisation of pounds 15m.

Phillip Sturrock, chairman and chief executive, led a group of venture capitalists who bought the Cassell imprint from CBS United Kingdom, a subsidiary of the US media group, for pounds 1.5m in 1986.

Since then Cassell, a familiar name in reference books and dictionaries, has embarked on a series of acquisitions that cost pounds 5m and together with organic growth lifted turnover from pounds 3m to about pounds 20m in 1993.

In the general interest field Cassell owns Ward Lock, whose cookery books include the Mrs Beeton range of household management books, and Victor Gollancz with its spread of fiction and non-fiction titles.

Specialist imprints include Arms and Armour Press, Blandford Press, Geoffrey Chapman and Mowbray and Mansell. About a third of turnover is overseas, mostly in the US.

The flotation will allow Cassell to pay off preference shares arising from the 1986 buy-in and reduce borrowings, which mounted up on the back of acquisitions. Some shareholders also plan to sell.