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Swets to dispose of subsidiaries in fire sale

Subsidiaries of the distressed Dutch publisher Swets are up for sale after an attempt to sell the group fell through.  
This month, EducationInvestor revealed Gilde Buyout Partners was seeking a buyer for Swets, which turned over half a billion euros last year. But after failing to find one, Swets' Dutch arm, Swets Information Services BV, declared bankruptcy in the court of Amsterdam on 23 September. 
Swets confirmed, however, that it was still looking to sell its foreign subsidiaries, which comprise about 80% of the business and are said to be more profitable. 
In a statement it said: “If and in which way the bankruptcy of Swets Information Services BV will affect its branches is currently under investigation by the trustee and the management team at this moment.
“In the coming days the trustee and the management team will continue discussions with organisations and individuals who may be interested in purchasing parts of the business and will be making every effort to try to preserve employment, where possible.”
The Swets group manages and processes subscriptions to scientific and professional publications under a range of brands globally. Gilde, which bought the business in 2007, has been seeking a buyer since Swets breached its long term debt covenants last year. 
Like most publishers Swets has been struggling to migrate from print to digital. According to its annual report, it had net sales of €550.4 million (£437 million) in 2013, down from €596.2 million in 2012, but operating profit stood at just €2.6 million. 
Berenson Consulting Group is understood to be advising Gilde on possible divestments.

Posted on: 25/09/2014

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