Fukutake to pay dollars 414m for Berlitz

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The Independent Online
FUKUTAKE, the Japanese publisher, has agreed to buy Berlitz International, the language learning group formerly controlled by Maxwell Communication Corporation.

The agreement comes nine months after an earlier deal fell apart because it was found that Robert Maxwell had pledged MCC's 56 per cent stake in Berlitz to bankers as security for loans to his private companies.

Fukutake is paying dollars 414m ( pounds 214m) for a 67 per cent stake in Berlitz. Existing shareholders will be offered dollars 21.62 plus one sixth of a new common share for each existing share.

That compares with a price of dollars 25 a share agreed between Fukutake and MCC for its holding shortly after Robert Maxwell's death last November.

However, the deal does not mean MCC creditors will see any money from Berlitz. The High Court is due to rule in the next couple of months on who owns the Berlitz shares, and so who will receive the payment from Fukutake.

In the meantime, the deal has to be ratified by shareholders. It is not clear whether Macmillan, the US arm of MCC, or the banks will vote the shares, though a Berlitz spokesman said that the banks voted the shares at Berlitz's annual shareholders meeting earlier this year.

The deal also depends on MCC agreeing to give up its rights for repayment of a dollars 180m bond secured on Berlitz, plus any claims against Berlitz that arise out of the parent company's collapse.

The bond is in default and Berlitz is not paying interest.