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M&S Donated to University of Toronto
Leah Eichler -- 7/24/00
Bennett is entrusting
his company's cultural
heritage to the university.
In an unprecedented bid to maintain the company's Canadian ownership and ensure the future of its publishing program, Avie Bennett, chairman and owner of McClelland & Stewart Inc., donated 75% of its shares to the University of Toronto. The remaining 25% of the shares were sold to Random House of Canada for an undisclosed sum.
Bennett, 72, concerned for the future of the company, came up with the idea of donating the publishing house in order to maintain its status as a Canadian institution. "After 15 years in the publishing business, I decided that it was time for me to find a way of ensuring McClelland & Stewart's future and preserving its past," Bennett said. "This is the culmination of more than five years of planning with the University of Toronto. What better way can there be to safeguard a great Canadian institution, a vital part of Canada's heritage, than by giving it to the careful stewardship of another great Canadian institution?"

The new company will be called McClelland & Stewart Ltd. and will be run by a seven-person board of directors. Five of the seven seats will be held by the University of Toronto with Random House retaining the remaining two. Bennett will serve as chairman. Douglas Gibson will assume the position of president and publisher, while Ellen Seligman will be promoted to publisher (fiction).

The company will be run independently of the university and have no connection to the University of Toronto Press. University of Toronto president Robert Prichard said that income received from ownership of the shares will be placed in an endowment in support of Canadian arts and culture.

UT will act as trustee of M&S, ensuring it continues to publish the same sort of books in the same quantities it d s now, Gibson said. The arrangement specifies the number of works of fiction, p try, and nonfiction the company must publish on a yearly basis in order to ensure the continuation of its publishing program.

Since the donation to the University of Toronto guarantees the Canadian status of the company, Bennett felt at ease to sell the remaining quarter to Random House of Canada, Gibson said, adding that he chose Random for its strong international links, its advanced electronic publishing program and its strength in the industry here. Random House's role will be mainly administrative, focusing on the marketing and selling of the books as well as accounting and computer support. Authors will deal with the same people they have always dealt with, according to Gibson.

As for logistics, the new company will comprise the old M&S's entire publishing arm--every person in editorial, typesetting, copyediting and production will be transferred to the new company. "Avie in effect split the old M&S in half. The half that has become the new M&S is the book-generating side. The side that looks after the distribution of agency titles, which was roughly half the business, has not moved into the new company," Gibson added.

The distribution of agency titles will continue under a new company called Stewart House, which Bennett will continue to own and operate. There will be no change in the selling of M&S's fall list until January 1. The books will continue to be shipped through Canbooks.
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