Paramount pays dollars 552m for Macmillan

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MACMILLAN, the crown jewel of the American publishing empire of the late Robert Maxwell, was sold to Paramount Communications yesterday for dollars 552.75m ( pounds 381m), bringing the sum raised by the administrators of the former Maxwell Communication Corporation to more than dollars 1.5bn.

As part of the deal, Macmillan - which had avoided bankruptcy proceedings despite the predicament of its parent - filed a so-called 'pre-packaged' reorganisation plan with a New York bankruptcy court, clearing Paramount of any future liabilities in connection with the Maxwell estate. Macmillan should re-emerge from the process in less than three months, allowing creditors to receive the first proceeds of the disposals.

A few smaller parts of Macmillan remain to be sold, but it is unlikely that the final amount raised will exceed dollars 1.2bn. Official Airline Guides, Maxwell's other large US acquisition, was sold earlier this year for dollars 417m.

The sale seems certain to complicate further the already-uncertain fate of Paramount, which is itself the object of a dollars 10bn bidding battle between two US cable television groups, Viacom and QVC Network. Paramount's share price dropped dollars 11 2 to dollars 805 8 on word that its bid had been accepted, topping competing offers from Pearson and two American publishing groups.