Thursday 19 Dec 2013
BBC Worldwide announces today that it has completed the sale of an 85% shareholding in BBC Audiobooks (including BBC Audiobooks America) to AudioGo Limited. BBC Worldwide will retain a 15% stake in the business.
Formed in 2001, BBC Audiobooks is the leading audio publisher in the UK. Its products are available on CD and in downloadable formats for retail and library markets. Following the sale, BBC Audiobooks will trade as AudioGo, and will continue to publish BBC-sourced content under the BBC Audiobooks imprint.
John Smith, CEO of BBC Worldwide, said: "I'm pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the sale process we initiated last year. BBC Worldwide will remain a shareholder in the business, and looks forward to participating in its future success. Sale proceeds will be reinvested in our international businesses, supporting future returns to the BBC, and therefore benefiting the licence fee payer."
Paul Dempsey, Managing Director of BBC Worldwide's Home Entertainment division, said: "The partnership with AudioGo Limited, announced today, will enable BBC Audiobooks to develop its catalogue and services under new ownership. This agreement mirrors the successful publishing joint ventures we have put in place for our books businesses."
Michael Kuhn, Chairman of AudioGo Limited said: "The partners in AudioGo Ltd are committed to building on the past achievements of BBC Audiobooks as it enters the digital age. Opportunities are many and exciting and we will immediately get to it with Managing Director Mike Bowen and his team, and in partnership with BBC Worldwide, to create new offerings to our customers worldwide."
BBC Audiobooks is best known for publishing landmark recordings and bestsellers including Under Milkwood (Richard Burton), The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy, Winnie the Pooh (Alan Bennett), I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and the recent BBC Radio 4 John Le Carre dramas. BBC Audiobook is a six-times winner of the Audio Publisher of the Year title. The company also has a thriving Large Print Books business that provides titles to UK and international libraries, and a direct mail business, The Audiobook Collection.
BBC Audiobooks last year recorded its one millionth download purchase, reflecting a 30% growth in digital sales on the previous year. This digital growth has helped the business secure wide visibility with audiences and fans online.
NOTES TO EDITORS
AudioGo was formed by a group of investors gathered by Michael Kuhn and his partners (who worked together at PolyGram) Marc Meyer and Malcolm Ritchie. Michael in his role as Chairman of the National Film and Television School knew fellow Governor Stephen Louis. Stephen had partnered with Jonathan Scherer (formerly like Stephen, with N M Rothschild) in several successful investments alongside Mike Ross and Theo Fonternel. These seven are now the partners in AudioGo.