15 May 2020

Fox Williams has advised Trustbridge Global Media, owned by international private equity firm Trustbridge Partners, on its acquisition of the children’s book publisher Walker Books Limited. The complex transaction involved the acquisition of the majority shareholding in Walker Books from two discretionary trusts which held the shares for the benefit of employees and authors, and the acquisition of the remaining shares from over 300 employees and authors who held shares either directly or through the Walker Books’ share incentive plan. 

Walker Books includes Candlewick Press located in the USA, Walker Books Australia and Walker Productions in London. One of the largest independent publishers of children’s books, Walker Books produces much-loved titles such as Where’s Wally, Guess How Much I love You and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  

Trustbridge Global Media is a global children’s content provider focused on developing and distributing quality children’s content that will endure for generations. It has operations in the USA, Europe and China. Trustbridge Partners has approximately $8bn under management.

Corporate partner and head of the firm’s publishing group Mary Elliott led the Fox Williams team with support from senior consultant Peter Faber, corporate partner Guy Morgan, senior associate Bethany Silkin and associates Eve Dimery and Priya Mattu. Further assistance was provided by a firm-wide team of specialists including tax and incentives partner Emma Bailey, dispute resolution partner Tom Custance, intellectual property partner Simon Bennett, property partner Liz Ruff and senior associate Rebecca Facey.

The transaction underlines the reputation of Fox Williams’ publishing group, which has considerable experience in the sales and acquisitions of publishing businesses.

Mary Elliott commented: “We were delighted to advise Trustbridge Global Media on their successful acquisition of iconic children’s book publisher Walker Books Limited. The transaction was particularly complex given the nature of Walker Books’ trustee, employee and author ownership, which gave rise to a number of significant legal, tax and logistical issues which Fox Williams were well placed to help all parties navigate. I am very pleased that Walker will be able to greatly benefit from investment by Trustbridge to maintain and expand its ever popular lists of bestselling titles whilst preserving the culture of the company as an independent and creatively-led organisation.”

Dan Sullivan, Vice-Chairman of Trustbridge Partners, commented: “We knew from the outset that the transaction we were pursuing was going to be unusually complex. We chose Fox Williams as counsel because of their expertise across a broad range of assignments and their deep experience within the publishing industry specifically. We discovered the team to have the depth we needed and a very strong commercial sensibility that contributed to a superbly successful relationship. We are pleased that we will be working with Fox Williams post completion as well, which reflects how positive we are about the firm.”

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