BUSINESS

Random House of Canada becomes sole owner of McClelland & Stewart

01/10/2012 03:51 EST | Updated 03/11/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Random House of Canada has become the sole owner of McClelland & Stewart after acquiring the remaining 75 per cent stake of the renowned publisher from the University of Toronto.

"I'm very excited about this because I started my career over 30 years ago at McClelland & Stewart, and McClelland & Stewart is the most iconic and oldest of all the Canadian publishers," Brad Martin, president and CEO of Random House of Canada, said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Random House has had a 25 per cent stake in McClelland & Stewart since 2000, when Avie Bennett, chairman and sole owner of M&S, sold that portion to the publishing house. The businessman and philanthropist donated the other 75 per cent to the University of Toronto. The school said it acted as a steward while Random House ran the company.

"The university is receiving no compensation for this transaction," U of T spokeswoman Laurie Stephens told The Canadian Press in an email.

Martin said Tuesday's deal was initiated by Random House and was in the works for a little over a year.

He would not disclose terms of the deal, but added that all the regulatory approvals have been met.

Random House says it will maintain the McClelland & Stewart imprint, the New Canadian Library, Emblem Editions, and Signal imprints. It also continue to fund and support the M&S Poetry program and the publication of The Journey Prize stories, and provide ongoing support for the Writers' Trust Journey Prize.

Random House will also continue to support and grow M&S's Tundra Books children's imprint.

McClelland & Stewart president Doug Pepper will continue to run the division and will report to Martin and sit on the Random House executive committee.

Ellen Seligman, executive vice president of McClelland & Stewart who has been its publisher of fiction for 12 years, will also continue in her role.

"We will certainly maintain the same type of publishing program and we are not anticipating any layoffs, so it will be largely be business as usual," said Martin, who got his start at M&S as a representative for eastern and northern Ontario.

"We will certainly maintain the same authors, if those authors continue to write," he added, noting Random House had been speaking with authors and agents all day Tuesday "and everybody has responded very positively and are very excited about the development."

Established in 1906, McClelland & Stewart has a renowned stable of authors including Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Rohinton Mistry, Farley Mowat and Michael Ondaatje.

But it's faced significant financial pressure in recent years amid a difficult economy and industry challenges, including digital-driven transitions.

David Naylor, president of University of Toronto, said in a statement that he was "confident that Random House of Canada's commitment to McClelland & Stewart will help it achieve even greater success in the future."

Established in 1944, Random House of Canada Limited is owned by Bertelsmann AG.

Random House merged internationally with Bantam Doubleday Dell in 1998 and the two companies officially became one in Canada in '99.

Random House's imprints include Knopf Canada and Doubleday Canada, which will maintain its Young Adult publishing program while M&S's Tundra Books children's imprint becomes the Canadian children's publishing program within Random House of Canada.