Blackstone consortium has exclusive with Houghton Mifflin

A consortium of private equity firms led by Blackstone and Thomas H Lee looks set to acquire the US publisher for around E1.75bn.

French media company Vivendi Universal has confirmed that it is in exclusive negotiations with a US-led consortium of private equity buyers over the sale of its Houghton Mifflin publishing assets.


The consortium comprises US-based Thomas H Lee Partners, Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and UK house Apax Partners, according to a report on Reuters.


“The sale is expected to go ahead on the basis of an enterprise value of E1.75bn, representing 1.4 times Houghton Mifflin's 2001 revenue and 9.5 times its 2001 EBITDA after bookplate amortisation,” said Vivendi in a statement.


A sale at this price would represent a victory of sorts for Vivendi, which last week said it would not sell the assets for less than E1.75bn, despite a number of offers being made at around E1.6bn.


The sale is the second part of the group’s publishing sale programme. Last week, a Rippleswood Holdings-backed bid from French publisher Lagardère secured Vivendi’s non-US publishing assets for E1.25bn.


Vivendi is hoping to cut its debt pile, which currently stands at nearly E20bn, by about E5bn in the current financial year. To date, the group has made a number of disposals, which have largely gone to European and US buyout firms. The recent non-US sale was preceded by the E1.2bn acquisition of Vivendi’s healthcare and business publishing assets by a syndicate of Apax, Cinven and Carlyle in April.