Dentons, Olswang lead on £1 Readers Digest sale to Bob the Builder venture capitalist

Dentons and Olswang have advised on the acquisition of Readers Digest by Mike Luckwell, the venture capitalist behind Bob the Builder, from Better Capital for the nominal sum of £1. 

Dentons advised Luckwell on the acquisition, led by corporate partner Philip Goodwin, with managing associate Gary Smith.

Olswang was appointed for Better Capital, led by private equity partner Duncan McDonald, with associate Beata Callenfels.

Olswang has acted for Better Capital on several previous deals including the private equity company’s £14m acquisition of Reader’s Digest out of administration in February 2010.

Better Capital’s interim management statement on 17 February included details of problems in its Fund I portfolio, of which Reader’s Digest had been one.

The statement continued: “The investment in Vivat Direct Limited, trading as Reader’s Digest in the UK was disposed of by Fund I on 14 February to a strategic trade buyer for a nominal sum.”

Background to the deal:

Luckwell has a longstanding relationship with Dentons, turning to Goodwin for most of his corporate finance work.

Although not on this occasion, Luckwell is also regularly advised by Olswang, having been advised by founding partner Simon Olswang until his retirement from the business in 2002.

The sale comes almost exactly one year after Weil Gotshal & Manges acted for the former parent company of 92-year-old magazine, RDA Holdings, when it filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan in a New York court in a bid to cut around $465m (£300m) of its debt (20 February 2013).

The 2013 filing was limited to the US business but the company also filed for bankruptcy in 2009, with its lenders later taking control of it.

When the Reader’s Digest Association (RDA) filed for administration in the UK in 2010, the London offices of Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner and, Kirkland & Ellis won advisory roles (22 February 2010).