Cheetham brushes off Quercus' Capel connection

<p>Anthony Cheetham has said there was nothing unusual about the inclusion of detail about payments totalling more than &pound;1m made by Quercus to the literary agency Capel &amp; Land, revealed in the publisher&rsquo;s preliminary results last week.</p><p>Cheetham was until the end of last year Quercus&rsquo;s chairman; he is married to Capel &amp; Land director Georgina Capel. Cheetham said: &quot;It is a material sum, and when you are related to somebody and the sums are material, declarations are made precisely to avoid any implication of wrong-doing.&quot; </p><p>According to the results statement, Quercus spent &pound;473,866 with Capel &amp; Land, and &pound;388,737 a year earlier. In total, the company has paid &pound;1,011,986 to Capel &amp; Land to date. Neither Cheetham nor Quercus would say whether this was an unusual amount for one literary agency to earn from one company. Capel said of the 111 authors represented by her agency, 25 had books published by Quercus, more than half under Quercus&#39; Contract Publishing Division. When questioned as to why the information had been provided this year but not in 2008, Mark Smith, Quercus c.e.o, said that Quercus&rsquo;s auditors had decided that the numbers had become &quot;material&quot;.</p><p>Cheetham left Quercus in February 2009 citing strategic differences. He added: &quot;I don&rsquo;t think there is any particular significance to this. It complies with the way public companies behave, and had already been declared in the placing document, which went out on 14th November, ahead of the fundraising Quercus did at the end of last year.&quot;</p><p>Capel was similarly unabashed. She told <em>The Bookseller</em>: &quot;[Quercus is] lucky to have [my authors], and they may even keep some of them if they manage to pay their bills on time.&quot; <em>The Bookseller</em> revealed two weeks ago that a number of agents had voiced concerns about late and sporadic payments going back as far as last summer. Quercus has now set up a short term working capital facility with its investor the Pentland Group, with &pound;460k already used. Smith said he was now happy with the company&#39;s cash position, saying the amount available via the facility was &quot;significant&quot;.</p><p>Quercus recorded a loss of &pound;280,000, despite an increase in turnover from &pound;8.6m in 2007 to &pound;10.9m last year. The company was hit by a shortfall in sales, but has begun 2009 with sales up almost 50%.</p>