Black confirms 'strategic review, potential sale' at Osprey

Black confirms 'strategic review, potential sale' at Osprey

The chairman of the Osprey Group has confirmed the company is undergoing a “strategic review”, which may include the potential sale of "any part of the business".

The move follows the departure of its c.e.o, Rebecca Smart, who is taking over as managing director of Ebury Publishing at Penguin Random House.

The news of a strategic review follows the announcement earlier today (20th June) that Osprey’s sci fi arm Angry Robot has closed two of its imprints, Exhibit A and Strange Chemistry, with immediate effect.

Robin Black, chairman of the Osprey Group, told The Bookseller that he did not wish to make a public comment “about a private company.” However, he said: “We are undergoing a strategic review internally following Rebecca leaving, and included in that is the potential sale of any part of the business”.

Publishers Lunch has reported that while Angry Robot is profitable, it is being “quietly” offered up for sale to competitors, with many options being considered for Osprey, such as consolidation, streamlining a number of business divisions, a sale of individual imprints or a sale of the whole company.

In an internal memo sent to staff, Osprey told employees that large publishing houses had shown interest in buying the company, which was “a testament to how well Osprey is perceived in the wider market, and your work and efforts over the years."

The review is said to have begun on 9th May and is expected to continue for at least six to eight weeks, with Livingstone Corporate Finance, the same company which worked on the sale of Quercus to Hachette, advising on the process.

The Osprey Group completed a refinancing to fund expansion in 2011, obtaining £4m from London-based private equity firm Alcuin. Its policy of acquisition has seen it buy Angry Robot and Old House Books & Maps in in 2011, Duncan Baird in 2012 and British Wildlife Publishing in 2013.

In November last year the publisher filed its results for the year 2012, in which it showed a 50% revenue growth from £7m to £10.6m, due partly to organic expansion and partly the acquisition of Duncan Baird, which saw the company almost doubling in size. Osprey recorded a loss for the year, after taxation, of £76,665, falling 86% from the loss of £559,024 in 2011.

At the time, Black said further expansion could be possible, saying: "The Board is continuing to evaluate opportunities for growth, either organically or by acquisition."