Shares in book publisher Quarto closed down 18 per cent today, after a brief flirtation with a mystery potential buyer came to an abrupt end.
Just last week, the London-listed company announced that it was in talks with an unnamed potential bidder following an unsolicited approach.
But this morning it said that discussions had been abandoned after it became clear that gaining certain regulatory approvals would not be feasible in the proposed timeframe.
Chief executive Marcus Leaver said the talks had been a distraction for management, and that “the Board considers it imperative that the Company remains focused on delivering a strong finish to the year.”
He added: "I welcome the clarity which this decision brings. As I said at the time of the interim results, we have an excellent publishing programme for the Autumn and the Holiday period - one of our strongest in the last few years - and everyone at Quarto is fully focused on executing our plans and maximising the opportunities in the second half of the year."
The mystery buyer made an offer at a price which was “considered attractive and reflective of the inherent value of the business as a global publishing platform” five weeks ago.
The initial announcement last Tuesday sent shares soaring, gaining 27.2 per cent.
But today Quarto dropped as much as 20 per cent, and closed down 18.27 per cent at 127.5p.
Group revenue for the first half was down from $57.9m to $50.2m (£38.5m). Pre-tax loss deepened to $9.2m (£7m), compared to $1.9m last year.