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HBJ Completes Sale of Subsidiaries

December 31, 1987 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., the textbook, insurance and theme park concern, said Thursday it had completed the previously-disclosed sale of its business publications and school supply companies for $334 million.

The Orlando, Fla.-based company said the sale completes its pledge to lenders who assisted the company with a $3 billion recapitalization plan last summer and that no other parts of the company are for sale.

Harcourt announced in November it had agreed to sell its HBJ Publications and HBJ Beckely-Cardy units to a new company called Edgell Communications Inc. headed by Robert Edgell, a Harcourt director and vice chairman who is leaving Harcourt on completion of the sale. He had run HBJ Publications for 20 years.

HBJ Publications publishes 110 titles in business and professional areas and operates a trade show division. Beckley-Cardy is a national school and office supplies distributor.

Edgell Communications is based in Cleveland, the trade show division is based in Norwalk, Conn., and Beckley-Cardy is based in Duluth, Minn.

Harcourt decided to sell the units earlier this year to help defray costs of the recapitalization that Harcourt proposed as it successfully warded off a hostile takeover bid from British publisher Robert Maxwell.

William Jovanovich, chairman of Harcourt, said that with the latest sale the company has ″fulfilled its pledge to its lenders″ by selling more than $370 million in assets in the fourth quarter of 1987.

″No other parts of HBJ, including the six theme parks, are for sale,″ he said. He noted that the company retains its 10 farm periodicals after the sale.

Edgell Communications will be managed by the same executive team that ran HBJ Publications for Harcourt.

Joining Edgell in the management buyout are the investment firm Kidder, Peabody & Co. Inc., which is providing bridge and is the lead investor; several HBJ Publications senior managers; the New York-based investment firm Wicks Communications Inc. and Labovitz Corp., a private investment firm based in Duluth, Minn.

Edgell said the new company plans to expand each segment of Edgell Communications.

″Our relationship with our prestigious investment partners will provide capital for acquisitions. We anxiously look forward to continuing the growth pattern we established under HBJ,″ he said.


In publishing, Edgell said the company would ″start and acquire publications serving industries ansd businesses not yet represented in our portfolio.″

He said efforts would also be made to add to the 23 trade shows the division currently operates.

In 1986, HBJ Publications posted operating earnings of $38 million on sales of $278.4 million.