Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Part III: Parent Company Owes $7 Bil

Motoko Rich in the New York Times reports that Education Media and Publishing Group, the Irish owner of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, “borrowed heavily to finance the acquisitions of Houghton Mifflin in 2006 and, last year, Harcourt.” How much, exactly? Jeremy Dickens, the private-equity company’s president who this week announced a temporary halt of acquisitions, put it at “about $7 billion in debt outstanding, on which it was paying about $500 million in debt service annually,” says Rich, who makes it clear that the purchase freeze was directed at the company’s consumer book business, not the textbooks. The former comprises less than 6 percent of total revenues.

Yesterday we speculated on the possibility the company or some part of it might have to be sold to relieve debt pressure. Dickens denied it – sort of. “If there’s a transaction that makes sense for all of our stakeholders, we’ll consider it,” he stated, admitting that some trade publishers had been sounding the company out.

We thought one of them could be Hachette. Interestingly, Hachette and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt were paired in Rich’s article for another reason. Contrasting the bleak news from HMH, Hachette announced a holiday bonus for all its employees amounting to one week’s salary.

RC

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