Quercus looks for a buyer

Quercus has formally put itself up for sale, less than a week after c.e.o. Mark Smith said a merger was not on the cards for the firm.

An announcement to the stock market today (22nd January) said that following its interim trading statement last week Quercus had decided “it would be in the best interests of the company's shareholders to seek potential offerors by means of a formal sale process”.

Mark Smith told The Bookseller: "We've been considering for some months how best to take the business forward for the long term in light of the fundamental changes which are taking place in our core UK marketplace. We now feel that the skills and experience of Quercus' team will flourish best within a larger organisation and so we've decided to put the company up for sale. In the meantime it's business as usual at Baker Street."

The company said its board “continued to have constructive dialogue” with its bankers, Barclays.

Last week Quercus announced it was expecting a “significant trading loss” for 2013.

The independent publisher said that sales in the final quarter of the year were "lower than expected", attributing the result to "continuing issues within the book trade which led retailers to adopt very conservative ordering policies", and "a lower than expected upturn in digital sales over the Christmas period to the end of the year".

The announcement regarding the formal sale process also said: “The Takeover Panel has granted a dispensation from certain rules, namely that any interested party participating in the formal sale process will not be required to be publicly identified as a result of this announcement.

“They would further not be subject to the 28-day deadline referred to in Rule 2.6(a) for so long as it is participating in the formal sale process.”

The company  will  conduct the  formal  sale process through  its  adviser, Livingstone  Partners  LLP.

When asked by The Bookseller last week about the prospects of a merger with another publisher, Smith said: "We are not in talks with anyone, we are not thinking about that.

"We like being an independent publisher, and that's how we want to operate. Obviously there have been headwinds in that direction across the trade, but one set of bad results for us doesn't mean the end of independent publishing."