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Bertram Capital announced today the sale of Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI) to Pearson plc (LSE: PSON; NYSE: PSO), the world's leading learning company and parent of Penguin Books Ltd, one of the largest traditional book publishers in the world. The $116 million all-cash deal marks Bertram Capital's third portfolio company exit in the last nine months. Since Bertram Capital's investment in 2007, ASI has grown to be the world's leading provider of professional self-publishing services.
"ASI's extraordinary growth and its impact on the self-publishing industry clearly demonstrate the capability our buy and build approach has to create market leaders that are attractive acquisitions for strategic buyers," said Jeff Drazan, Managing Partner at Bertram Capital. "We successfully executed three add-on acquisitions for the ASI platform and grew the business more than 4x in just over five years, ultimately creating the world's largest self-publishing business. I am extremely proud of the Bertram Capital and ASI teams, led by Jared Ruger, Partner at Bertram and Kevin Weiss, CEO of ASI, who achieved this highly successful outcome. The Bertram team is especially grateful to Ken Wasik and Phyllis Riggins from Stephens Inc. for their skillful execution in the sale of this unique company. We are extremely pleased with the result of the process they managed."
Bertram Capital acquired Bloomington, IN-based ASI in April 2007 and quickly acquired iUniverse as its first add-on acquisition in October of 2007. After integrating iUniverse, the company then completed the acquisitions of Xlibris and Trafford in 2009. Beginning with a platform investment in a business with approximately $25 million in trailing revenue, Bertram Capital applied its growth-focused approach of strategic acquisitions, aggressive business development and internal operational improvements to expand the business more than 4x over its ownership period.
"Working in partnership with Kevin Weiss and his team at ASI for the past five years has been a great experience for the Bertram team," said Jared Ruger, Partner. Together, we transformed a slow growing, breakeven business into a fast-growing, consistently profitable innovator in its market that ultimately attracted the attention of a major strategic player. We achieved our goal of building a business that was both relevant and attractive to a strategic buyer. We wish Pearson well as they take the reigns and lead ASI into the future."
Bertram Capital worked with the ASI team to expand its product and service offering to more than eight international markets, developed key partnerships with traditional publishers, such as Thomas Nelson and initiated a number of new proprietary service offerings. Bertram successfully transformed the business from a small player in a fragmented market into the world's leading provider of self-publishing services.
"It has been a privilege to work in partnership with Bertram Capital to create a true market leader and innovator," said Kevin Weiss, CEO of ASI. "Bertram's business-building approach, their guidance, and their expertise provided the tools for the ASI team to bring the self-publishing market into mainstream publishing. We've had an exciting journey as part of the Bertram Capital family and have truly benefitted from our partnership with the Bertram team. We look forward to continued growth as part of Pearson where we'll have an even broader platform and the ability to offer more opportunities for authors and greater choice for readers."