Wasserstein & Co. buys audiobook publisher Recorded Books

Private equity firm Wasserstein & Co. has acquired Recorded Books from Haights Cross Communications. No financial terms were disclosed. Northwestern Mutual and Lexington Partners are co-investing in the deal. BNP Paribas provded the financing for the transaction while Berkery, Noyes & Co. advised HCC and Recorded Books. Headquartered in Prince Frederick, Maryland, Recorded Books is an audiobook publisher and provider of digital content to the library, school and retail markets.


NEW YORK, NY – January 31, 2014 — Wasserstein & Co., LP (“Wasserstein & Co.”), on behalf of its private equity fund Wasserstein Partners III, has acquired all of the assets of Recorded Books LLC (“Recorded Books” or the “Company”), one of the leading worldwide providers of unabridged audiobooks, digital content, and services to the library, school, and retail markets, from Haights Cross Communications, Inc. (“HCC”), a leading K-12 educational and library publisher. Northwestern Mutual and Lexington Partners are co-investing in the transaction with Wasserstein & Co.
With operations in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, Recorded Books offers more than 13,500 exclusive unabridged audiobooks to the library, school, and retail markets. In addition, Recorded Books offers libraries more than 100,000 eBooks through its proprietary OneClick Digital platform, and 12 electronic resources including Zinio, a multi-platform distribution service for digital magazines, and IndieFlix, a streaming movie service. The Company’s U.K. subsidiary, W.F. Howes Ltd., is the leading publisher of audiobooks in the U.K. and a preeminent service provider to libraries in the region.
Rich Freese, President and CEO of Recorded Books said, “We are excited to work with Wasserstein & Co., whose expertise in the stewardship of content-owning media businesses will enable us to expand our leadership position in the audiobook, eBook, and digital content markets. This strategic partnership provides us with the resources to further broaden our content offerings and services for customers, and accelerate our growth into additional global markets.”
“Recorded Books is a premier audiobook publisher, drawing from the days when it pioneered the industry over thirty years ago,” commented Anup Bagaria, Co-Managing Partner of Wasserstein & Co. “With a proven management team, a portfolio of high quality exclusive content, and proprietary technology, Recorded Books is well-positioned to capitalize on the shift from physical audiobook formats to digital content. We look forward to working closely with the Recorded Books team as it continues to build on its long-standing customer relationships and track record of strong growth.”
Michael Struble, Managing Director of Wasserstein & Co., added, “It was a pleasure working with the team at HCC and Berkery, Noyes & Co. to complete this transaction. We’re thrilled to be acquiring a business with great prospects in both the library and retail markets and to partner with the Recorded Books team during this next phase of growth.”
Rick Noble, CEO of Haights Cross Communications, suggested that, “With their world-class digital platform and new eBook offering rapidly gaining momentum, the timing is perfect for Recorded Books to be joining a quality, growth-oriented private equity firm like Wasserstein & Co. We wish them all every success.”
Financing for the transaction was provided by BNP Paribas. Jones Day served as legal advisor to Wasserstein & Co. Berkery, Noyes & Co. acted as financial advisor to HCC and the Company.
About Wasserstein & Co.
Wasserstein & Co. is a leading independent private equity and investment firm, focused primarily on leveraged buyout investments and related investment activities. Wasserstein & Co. manages capital on behalf of institutional and individual investors. The firm is focused on investments primarily in the media and communications, consumer products and water equipment and services industries. Wasserstein & Co. has offices in New York and Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.wasserco.com.
About Recorded Books
Recorded Books is the largest independent publisher of unabridged audiobooks and provider of digital content to the library, school, and retail markets. The Company owns an exclusive catalog of over 13,500 audiobook titles narrated by professional, award-winning actors. Recorded Books provides digital audiobooks and eBooks to libraries through its proprietary OneClick Digital platform, as well as electronic resources, including digital magazines and films, through its proprietary RBdigital Gateway platform. The Company was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Prince Frederick, MD. For more information, visit www.recordedbooks.com.
About Haights Cross Communications
Founded in 1997 and based in New York, NY, Haights Cross Communications is a premier educational and library publisher dedicated to creating the finest books, periodicals, software, and online services, serving the following markets: K-12 supplemental education, public and school libraries, and consumers. Haights Cross companies include: Triumph Learning, Buckle Down Publishing and Options Publishing. For more information, visit www.haightscross.com.