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Hodder on takeover trail

HODDER HEADLINE, the book publisher whose authors include Stephen King and John le Carre, is looking for acquisitions, the company's chief executive, Tim Hely Hutchinson, said yesterday.

Hodder is looking for companies whose authors have strong "backlists" of previously published work. Although Hodder is not in any direct talks at the moment, it has the power to finance a deal as its gearing has been halved to 11 per cent at the end of the half year. First-half profits rose by 70 per cent to pounds 2.2m.

Hodder said it had strong expectations for titles to be released in its second half. These include Stephen King's Bag of Bones, John le Carre's Single and Single and autobiographies from Will Carling and Sir Edward Heath. The tale of a travelling giraffe is also being tipped as a Christmas bestseller. Michael Allin's Zarafa is the story of a giraffe given to France's Emperor Charles X by an Egyptian potentate.

Investment, page 17