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Dublin labels group buys Prontaprint for pounds 18.9m

Prontaprint, the stationery group that was taken private in 1992, was sold yesterday to the Dublin-based labels business Adare Printing Group for pounds 18.9m.

The offer of pounds 15.11 for each Prontaprint share was recommended by Richard Raworth, the company's executive chairman. Adare has claimed acceptances for 96.4 per cent of Prontaprint's shares.

Mr Raworth and his family own almost 60,000 shares, which they acquired in 1992 for pounds 1.19 a share. The sale will net the family a windfall profit of more than pounds 800,000. Shareholders also have the alternative of accepting a tender offer for their shares from the company itself if that makes more sense for tax purposes.

After the acquisition, Mr Raworth is expected to stay at the head of Prontaprint, which has 250 shops in Britain and made profits of pounds 2m last year, with as much as pounds 8m expected for 1995. He will also be offered a seat on the Adare board.

Adare, which grew strongly in the six months to October, has made no secret of its desire to expand into Britain. It will build on Prontaprint's existing franchise and hopes to develop its brand further.

During 1995, Prontaprint's sales of its design, printing and copying services grew by 17 per cent to pounds 24m. Profits have grown by an average of 28 per cent a year since the buyout, which was backed by the venture capital groups 3i and ECI Ventures. That growth was well in excess of targets set at the time of the deal, which involved the acquisition of Continuous Stationery, which was then quoted on the London stock market.

Adare moved into book printing and publishing last year when it bought the Dublin-based Mount Salus Press Holdings. That took it into educational printing and computer manual production.