Placing puts pounds 102m tag on Dorling

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DORLING Kindersley Holdings, the publisher of glossy reference books, has priced its pounds 32m share offer at 165p, valuing it at about pounds 102m, writes Neil Thapar.

The company, which is 26 per cent owned by Microsoft, the US software giant, is raising about pounds 32m in a placing and intermediaries offer involving the issue of 19 million shares.

About two-thirds of the new shares are being placed with institutional investors and the rest are being offered to the public. Investors will have to apply through a stockbroker.

Taxable profits of the group, set up in 1974, have grown from pounds 295,000 in 1988 to pounds 7.5m in the year ended 30 June on turnover up almost sevenfold to pounds 71m.

At the flotation price the shares are rated on 18 times last year's earnings. The group's pro forma net assets are valued at pounds 35.2m.

The bulk of the issue proceeds will be used for the company's growth.

Microsoft's stake, acquired in March 1991 for pounds 7.3m, is expected to fall to about 20 per cent following the flotation.

The issue is sponsored by Barclays de Zoete Wedd and Cazenove. First dealings are expected next Friday. The offer is due to close by 10am next Wednesday.