Dorling may raise 25m pounds in flotation

DORLING Kindersley, the reference books publisher, is coming to the stock market via a placing and intermediaries offer valuing it at about pounds 100m, writes Neil Thapar.

The company, in which Microsoft, the software giant, has a 26 per cent stake, is expected to raise about pounds 25m on flotation. The offer price is to be set on 23 October when it publishes a formal prospectus. The issue is sponsored by Barclays de Zoete Wedd.

Set up in 1974, DK is involved in the creation of reference books ranging from Houseplants to Family Medical Guide, with worldwide sales of 2.4 million and six million copies respectively.

The company's books are published in 37 languages and sold in more than 80 countries. Last year it published 155 titles and the total list comprises 560 titles.

In March 1991, Microsoft acquired a 26 per cent stake in the company for pounds 7.25m. But the stake is exepcted to be reduced to about 20 per cent after the flotation. The software company also has licensing rights to publish certain DK books and in electronic form for use in multi-media computer technology.

DK's taxable profits have grown from pounds 295,000 in 1988 to pounds 7.5m in the year ended 30 June, on turnover up almost seven-fold to pounds 71m.

Group sales are evenly divided between the US, UK and the rest of the world. About 90 per cent of its existing titles are in print.