Allen & Unwin becomes Atlantic's majority shareholder

Allen & Unwin becomes Atlantic's majority shareholder

Australian publisher Allen & Unwin has bought a majority share in Atlantic Books, following a difficult period for the UK company.

Allen & Unwin had previously owned a minority stake in Atlantic of around 15-20%, with Atlantic representing key titles from the Australian publisher's adult list in the UK.

News of the buy follows the announcement this morning (14th January) of a restructure at the company, which will see former Orion c.e.o. Peter Roche brought in as non-executive chairman, replacing publisher and c.e.o. Toby Mundy in that role. Meanwhile John Sprinks, the finance director of Murdoch Books in London, will also become finance director of Atlantic Books.

Editor-in-Chief Ravi Mirchandani is leaving the business, as are three other members of staff.

Publisher and c.e.o. Toby Mundy [pictured] told The Bookseller that the next published results for Atlantic, covering the year to end 2012 and already overdue for filing at Companies House, would be "pretty horrible", but he said that Allen & Unwin's decision to increase their shareholding in the business to a controlling stake would set the publisher up for the future.

Mundy said: "The move puts us on much more stable footing, after a month or two of uncertainty. Although I'm very sad to be seeing some good people go, the change is good news for the company in the long run."

Mundy said there would not be a direct replacement for Mirchandani, but that he himself would take on more responsibility for acquisitions. He said: "I have spending a lot of my time working on the finance side of things in the past year, so bringing in the new people to take care of that frees me up to look at acquisitions, which is what I did when the company started."

Atlantic's last set of available results are for the year ended 31st December 2011, and show a loss of £193,195, on a turnover of £8.2m, an overall improvement from 2010's results, which saw a loss of £1.8m on turnover of £6.9m.

Mundy said 2012's results would suffer from reduced turnover. He said: "They are going to be very not good. The main problem has been due to falling turnover, in part caused by market conditions. Retailers have been very cautious about how they take on stock, and it has been very difficult to turn things around against that backdrop."But he added that he was confident about the direction the company would now go in. He said: "With the new support, we're raring to go. We have good books and fantastic people, and we're much better placed to exploit the books we have under contract."

Books for 2014 include Christos Tsiolkas's just-released Barracuda, the follow-up to the bestselling The Slap, a biography of Queen Victoria by AN Wilson, and a new Christopher Hitchens collection, due this autumn.

Allen & Unwin recently announced it would begin publishing children's titles into the UK.