By Eugene Gerden
France’s Hachette Livre has now become one of Russia’s leading book publishers, finalizing the acquisition of a 49% stake in Azbuka Atticus. Azbuka Atticus consists of leading publishing houses in Russia, inlcuding Machaon, Kolibri and Inostranka. Its total production is estimated at more than 2,000 titles per year with a total circulation of 20 million copies. The company’s revenue was $50 million in 2013, making it the 9th largest publishing group in the country in turnover and commanding a 1.9% market share, according to the Russian Book Union.
Hachette acquired a blocking stake (25%) in the Azbuka Atticus as far back as in March 2011, along with the option to increase its stake up to a controlling interest over the next several years. But Alexander Mamut, who controls Azbuka, consolidated the majority of the company’s shares under his control by acquiring a minority interests in Azbuka from other shareholders, including Arcady Vitruk (former CEO of the group), Sergei Parkhomenko and Barbara Gornostaeva (who are the founders of Inostranka publishing house, which is part of Azbuka and mainly specializes in the publishing of foreign literature in the Russian book market).
According to analysts’ estimates, total turnover of the Russian publishing industry in 2014 fell by 2%, to 76.6 billion rubles, following the downward trajectory that has been in place since 2011.