The private equity firm Shamrock Capital Advisors has acquired audiobook publisher Recorded Books from Wasserstein & Co. for an undisclosed price. Shamrock was the under-bidder when Wasserstein bought Recorded Books in January 2014.
With the backing of Wasserstein, Recorded Books has been expanding. It acquired HighBridge Audio in May 2014, and Tantor Media at the beginning of 2015. Rich Freese, CEO of Recorded Books, told PW that in the 18 months Recorded Books was owned by Wasserstein, earnings rose 40%.
Freese said that Shamrock's acquisition of the company was “positive for everyone." He continued: "Wasserstein got a good return, and management is happy because Shamrock shares our vision.” No changes in the current management structure are planned.
Recorded Books publishes about 3,000 audiobooks annually, and has a catalog of 25,000 titles.
Looking ahead, Recorded Books will is focused on international expansion. The company has just started an audio publishing operation in Australia (through its Wavesound subsidiary), and will start a program in Germany in the fourth quarter. And Freese said the purchase of an audiobook publisher overseas is likely.
On the domestic front, the Tantor and HighBridge purchases have given Recorded Books a good base, Freese said. Now, the emphasis is on looking for growth in specific areas such as the library market, an area where the company has had “tremendous growth” since it introduced its OneClickdigital platform 18 months ago.