HC 'focused on closing the deal' over Harlequin

A HarperCollins spokesperson has said the company is "focused on closing the deal" following the announcement that its parent company News Corp has bought Harlequin Enterprises from the Torstar Corporation.

Harlequin, the publisher of Mills and Boon books among other imprints, will operate as a division of HarperCollins once the deal is approved by regulators, expected in the third quarter of the year. News Corp paid C$455m in cash (£246m) for the publisher.

A HarperCollins spokesperson said: "Right now, we are just focused on closing the deal and are taking a business as usual approach. We look forward to welcoming the leadership and employees of Harlequin into the HarperCollins family once we have regulatory approval."

No comment was offered on whether the publisher expected any redundancies as part of the merger.

Tim Cooper, m.d. of Harlequin UK, said the businesses were now looking to complete the regulatory process, but did not comment further on the acquisition.

Harlequin has more than 1,000 members of staff worldwide, though it has not confirmed how many are in the UK, where its offices are based in Richmond.

It runs four imprints in the UK, Mills & Boon which focuses on romance, Mira which publishes women's fiction, Mira Ink which is aimed at teens and YA, and digital imprint Carina.

Harlequin Enterprises was founded in 1949 in Canada as a paperback publisher. Its growth was boosted by becoming the North American distributor for British publisher Mills & Boon, which was set up in 1908. In 1971, Harlequin bought out Mills & Boon.

Torstar Corportation, which owns Canada's largest daily newspaper, The Toronto Star, bought out Harlequin in 1981. In recent years, Torstar has experienced declining revenues, and in May last year it announced a restructuring of its book publishing a general media divisions, with more than 100 redundancies made across the business.

In 2013, Harlequin had revenues of C$398m (£215m). In the UK in 2013, Harlequin's sales were worth £6.3m according to TCM, down 28% on 2012. HarperCollins had TCM sales of £107m in the UK in 2013. Harlequin's top selling book of 2013 was Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan, which sold 30,651 copies in paperback.