Maxwell stake in Nimbus is sold

THE CONTROLLING stake in Nimbus Records, the compact disc maker at the centre of Robert Maxwell's strategy to develop a multi-media empire, has been sold to a US investment bank for an estimated pounds 20m.

The buyer of MCC's 75.1 per cent holding is DLJ Merchant Banking, a subsidiary of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, the New York investment bank.

Price Waterhouse, the joint administrator of MCC, will receive cash. It said yesterday that the deal would be completed by the end of this month.

The deal is to be funded by substantial equity from DLJ with Morgan Grenfell, the merchant bank, providing the senior debt.

The administrators said DLJ was one of about 100 suitors to emerge since problems arose with MCC following Maxwell's death. The original line-up included several media groups.

Nimbus is one of Britain's best- known independent music companies. In 1984 it becaame the first company in the UK to manufacture compact discs. Two years later it became part of the former Maxwell empire. But the company continued to operate independently, making the decision to enter the US market in 1987.

The company specialises in classical CDs and in transferring old 78s on to compact disc.

Nimbus employs 700 people and has manufacturing plants at Cwmbran, Gwent, and Charlottesville, Virginia.

A spokesman for the company said the deal would allow it to expand research and development activities and to retain its autonomy.

Count Labinsky, the founder- president of Nimbus, welcomed the agreement. He and his co- founders, Gerald Reynolds and Michael Reynolds, hold the balance of Nimbus shares. Peter Laister will continue as chairman.

Jonathan Phillips, a partner with Price Waterhouse, said the deal represented the best return to MCC creditors and was good for the record firm and its employees.