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UK’s oldest wine title bought by American firm

Harpers, the UK’s oldest wine magazine, has been bought by an American ex-pharmaceutical company as part of a wider deal involving Harpers’ parent company, Highbury House.

The deal sees Highbury House’s business publishing division, which includes the wine trade magazine Harpers, being sold to Ergo Science Corporation for £12.5m (US$23.5m). In all, the takeover affects 45 business titles including Motor Trader, Export Times and Checkout.

The International Wine & Spirit Competition and the Harpers website will both be acquired as part of the Harpers brand.

Although the exact future for Harpers is not known, Steve Hardiman, the head of Highbury’s Food, Drink and Retail arm, is optimistic. ‘We believe this to be a positive step,’ he said.

The deal is expected to be finalised by April.

Ergo Science Corporation used to develop treatment for metabolic disorders, including diabetes, before it sold off all its assets in November 2003. Since then, Ergo has been looking to acquire one or more established businesses. This is its first such acquisition. The group has no previous publishing experience.

Ergo’s takeover is part of a bigger sell-off which sees the consumer magazines published by Highbury going to Future group – the third largest magazine publisher in the UK.

Harpers was established in 1878.

Written by Oliver Styles

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