Canongate sells controlling stake in Text Publishing

Canongate sells controlling stake in Text Publishing

Canongate has sold its controlling stake in Australian publisher Text Publishing to Maureen and Tony Wheeler, the founders of Lonely Planet.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, generates a "sizeable" amount of cash to invest into the Scottish publisher. Text Publishing founders Michael Heyward and Penny Hueston will retain their shares, with Heyward remaining publisher and managing director. The two publishers will continue to work together on acquiring books and authors.

Canongate bought Text in a joint venture with Heyward in 2004. Canongate m.d. and publisher Jamie Byng said: "Our decision to sell our stake in Text was a strategic one that will enable us to focus more of our attention in our home market whilst allowing us to continue to work side by side with Michael and the terrific team he has built at Text."

Speaking to The Bookseller, Byng said the sale was "in no way at all" caused by the fallout from the publication of the Julian Assange memoir. Press reports suggested Canongate could face financial trouble if it did not go ahead with publication of the book by the Wikileaks founder, which it released two weeks ago without Assange's permission. Byng said: "[The Text deal] was in the pipeline since the beginning of this year. It had been decided with Michael and the shareholders for some time that this was something we were keen to do. The situation with Assange has had no bearing on this whatsoever. Cash is not an issue now." He added the deal generates "sizeable" cash for Canongate to invest in authors and other business opportunities.

In a statement, Maureen and Tony Wheeler said: "Our business decision was definitely influenced by the market share Text holds in our bedside book collections. Text have a wonderful track record in publishing great books by Australian authors and acquiring the rights to important overseas titles. The current challenges to publishing may change the form in which we read, but not our urge to read for entertainment and information."

Meanwhile, Canongate has announced it has sold rights in Assange's memoir, Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography, in 15 countries. It has secured deals in Australia and New Zealand (Text), Catalan (Ara Llibres), Czech (Jota), Denmark (Tiderne Skifter), Germany (Dumont), Finland (Sammakko), Korea (Munhakdongne), Malayalam (DC Books), Marathi (Ameya), Netherlands (De Geus), Portugal (Objectiva), Sweden (Norstedts), Taiwan (Commonwealth), Turkey (Ala Yayinlari), and Ukraine (ECEM).