Sale talks are off but Future Network still looking at its options

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The Independent Online

Future Network said yesterday it had been "a victim of events" after admitting talks about a possible sale had broken down.

On Wednesday, the struggling publisher of computer games magazines revealed it was considering asset sales, a cash-call to shareholders or a possible sale and was in discussions with a number of parties. But less than 24 hours later it said the sale talks were off.

Michael Penington, the finance director, said the company had had to make an announcement at the close of Wednesday's trade after the share price leapt 24 per cent.

He said: "It would probably have been better for everyone if no announcement had taken place.... Sometimes disclosures produce clarity. This is one of the times when it did not help anybody."

Mr Penington confirmed that Future Network was continuing to look at all options in the interests of shareholder value, but said: "We do not have an option right now which involves a sale of the company."

The loss-making Bath-based publisher, which is 25 per cent owned by its founder Chris Anderson, a publishing entrepreneur, has spent the year restructuring in an attempt to stabilise its business.

It has been hit by decreased advertising spending and falling circulation with the slowdown in the computer games market. Last month, it shed 140 jobs, saving £4m annually, and has also sold Business 2.0, a New Economy business title, to AOL Time Warner for £49m and axed 20 internet and New Economy titles.

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