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Publisher of Weekly Reader, Funk & Wagnalls for Sale

July 17, 1990

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) _ Field Publications, the educational publishing company that puts out the Weekly Reader and Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia, has been put up for sale by its Chicago owner.

Bruce Seide, president of Field Publications, said Tuesday that the company’s parent, Field Corp. of Chicago, is searching for buyers for the Middletown-based firm, which employs 960 in Middletown, Ramsey, N.J., and Columbus, Ohio.

Seide said Field Corp. has retained the investment banking firm Morgan Stanley to negotiate with potential buyers.

″There are any number of publishing and direct marketing organizations who are looking for the possible opportunity for growth or synergy with their own companies,″ he said. ″We will evaluate all of them initially and should have the group narrowed down in a few weeks.″

The privately held company publishes and sells a variety of publications to schools, students and individuals. Its principal products are book clubs for children and adults and the Weekly Reader, a 61-year-old classroom newspaper read by more than 10 million schoolchildren.

The sale of the company would be its fourth. Founded in Ohio in 1902, it was known as American Education Publications in 1949 when it was bought by Wesleyan University for $8.2 million.

Wesleyan sold the company to Xerox Corp. in 1965, reportedly for $54 million to $56 million. Xerox in turn sold its educational publishing unit to Field Corp. in August 1985.

In 1988, Field Corp. expanded into the encyclopedia market by purchasing New Jersey-based Funk & Wagnalls Inc., which sells reference books through supermarkets.

Seide said Field Publications’ revenues were about $300 million in 1989 and were expected to be about the same this year.

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