Consortium buys MCC's Panini at auction

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PANINI, the Italian football sticker company, has been sold by the administrators of Maxwell Communication Corporation to a consortium of investors led by Bain Cuneo Capital Investments.

Jonathan Phillips, of the accountants Price Waterhouse, who is one of the joint administrators, would not disclose the price.

However, he said the sale was the first MCC disposal to need the approval of the US Bankruptcy Court. This requirement - agreed by those involved in the MCC administration in Britain and the US - applies to deals valued at more than pounds 25m.

The sale, which had been widely expected, was conducted through an international auction and represented 'a very satisfactory outcome' for MCC's creditors, Mr Phillips said.

With the sale of Nimbus Records announced earlier this week, the disposal of the non-US businesses of MCC is largely complete. Just a few smaller businesses remain to be sold.

The most significant of these, International Learning Systems (Japan), which sells BBC English language training products, is being marketed following the renewal of its contract. It is expected to be sold by the end of the year.

The intentions of the buyers of MC Italia, Panini's holding company, are not known. Mr Phillips expected them to have 'some radical plans' as the business needs help to return to profitability.

He would not confirm the report in the Independent on Sunday of 7 June that the managers of Panini had set up a rival company, Stickline, to defraud Robert Maxwell - apparently with his knowledge. He said the managers vehemently denied the allegations.