Bath audio book group writes new chapter in its growth with US deal

January 9, 2013

Bath-based audiobook group AudioGO has strengthened its business in the North American by acquiring US firm Blackstone Audio for an undisclosed amount.

AudioGO, formerly BBC Audiobooks, already has operations in Rhode Island with offices in New York as well as its UK headquarters in Bath and an office in London.

It has a catalogue of around 10,000 titles including best sellers by John le Carré from the BBC and the re-voiced James Bond novels by Ian Fleming.

Blackstone, based in Oregon, has a catalogue of nearly 5,000 titles. It has received 100 nominations for Audie Awards – which recognise distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment in the US – and won 13 of them. It has also received five Grammy nominations with one Grammy winner.

The firm was founded in 1987 by Craig and Michelle Black. Mr Black has been appointed to the enlarged group’s board of directors, while he and Ms Black will remain as consultants to the group.

AudioGO chief executive Mike Bowen becomes CEO of the combined Group, based in Bath. 

Josh Stanton will continue as president of Blackstone Audio and has agreed to serve as CEO of the combined operations in North America based in Ashland, Oregon. 

Mike Desrosiers has been appointed CFO of North American Operations, with Heather Johnson remaining CFO of Blackstone Audio. Michael Kuhn, the former head of PolyGram Films, will remain non-executive chairman of the enlarged Group.

Mr Kuhn said: “We are delighted that Craig and Michelle Black have entrusted us with the future of the great company they founded. Its reputation for quality audio recordings is unmatched and under Josh Stanton they have pioneered innovative digital initiatives with its new website. Together we look forward to providing an exceptional offering to audiobook customers worldwide.”

Mr Black added: “I couldn’t have asked for a better partnership for Blackstone. AudioGO is a fabulous company with strong resources and a vision that matches ours. I’m confident this union will redound to great success.”

The acquisition was supported by Alcuin Capital which financed the acquisition of AudioGo by a group of private investors in July 2010. Alcuin Capital co-founder Mark Storey said: “Our confidence in AudioGO has encouraged us to support this significant expansion of its operations and we are excited by the growth prospects afforded by the combination with the exciting team and resources at Blackstone.”

Advisers to AudioGO included accountants Grant Thornton and law firm Jones Day.




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