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Agatha Christie begins new chapter after pounds 10m selff.

Agatha Christie is set for a marketing make-over after diversified food and entertainments group Booker sold its 64 per cent stake in Agatha Christie Ltd to Chorion for pounds 10 million.

The deal means that a range of Agatha Christie themed products, including games and other merchandise, is likely to find its way onto retailers' shelves across the country - Chorion is company that bought the rights to Enid Blyton two years ago and has t ransformed the profile of the author's best-known works, including the adventures of Noddy and Big Ears.

Yesterday's deal came a day after Booker said it planned to sell 20 per cent of its turnover to focus on its food distribution business.

Turnover of the Agatha Christie company last year was pounds 2.1 million, with profits of pounds 1.5 million and net assets of pounds 1.7 million.

Chorion said the primary source of income was from royalties on book sales with additional income from films, television and audio publishing. The majority of revenue is derived from the UK and Europe but the US is expected to make an increasingly import ant contribution from next year as the company develops the business.

The balance of the company's share capital will continue to be held by members of the Agatha Christie family and family trusts. These shareholders will continue to have the right to appoint half of the Board of the company, including the chairman.

The incumbent, Mr Matthew Prichard, is the late author's grandson, and will continue in that role under Chorion's management.

Chorion chairman Mr John Conlan said: "This acquisition, which is expected to be earnings enhancing immediately, fits exceptionally well with our existing Enid Blyton brand and quite uniquely brings together under one ownership and management two ofthe world's most successful authors."

The other assets of Booker's Entertainment Division being acquired include a 51 per cent shareholding in the company which owns copyrights in the works of the late Robert Bolt, whose best known work is "A Man For All Seasons".

Also acquired are the assets of three small businesses in the publishing and animation area, Booker Books, Booker Animation and Kalisto.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 4, 1998
Words:360
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