A little more than one year after the sale of the company fell through, the Perseus Books Group announced Wednesday afternoon that it has "initiated a formal process to explore a potential sale of the business."
To help the company explore the move, Perseus has hired the investment banking firm Greenhill & Co., who brokered the sale of Scholastic's educational publishing group to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “We have received multiple inquiries from parties expressing significant interest in the company,” said Perseus Books CEO David Steinberger in a statement. “The Perseus Books board has determined that it is our fiduciary responsibility to explore a potential sale transaction.” It wasn't clear how long the exploration process will take, although no decision on whether to sell the company is expected to be made soon.
Last summer a deal that would have seen Hachette Book Group buy Perseus’ publishing assets, with Ingram acquiring its distribution business, fell apart just days before it was set to be completed. Following the collapse of the deal, Perseus got a new majority owner in February, when Centre Lane Partners acquired control of the investment funds that held ownership in Perseus Books. “Perseus Books just completed the most successful three-year period in its history, and the momentum continues to build for the company," said Quinn Morgan, co-founder and managing director of Centre Lane.
Perseus' annual revenues are estimated at about $400 million with $100 million coming from its publishing group and the remainder from distribution.
In his letter to employees marking the end of the company’s fiscal year, on June 30, Steinberger thanked the staff for helping to re-energize Perseus after the sale to HBG was officially called off. He said Perseus beat its financial goals and set numerous performance records. The company underwent a restructuring last October, in which Susan Weinberg was put in charge of the publishing group as senior v-p, group publisher, and Mark Suchomel was named to head the distribution business as president of client services.
Speculation about who might acquire the company now has turned back to HBG. At the time of the purchase last year, it was assumed that Ingram was brought into the deal because HBG did not have the ability to absorb all of Perseus’ 600 distribution clients. A year later HBG, which has had soft sales since the Perseus purchase was called off, could be in a better position to buy the entire company. Another private equity firm is also a possible buyer. The latter is a move Perseus employees might also favor, since it would keep the company as a standalone operation, as opposed to one that needs to be integrated into another publisher.