Turnaround firm Aurelius has managed to halve the price it's paying for Connect Group's book division

Lucy White
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Aurelius had threatened not to buy Connect Books at all (Source: Getty)

Fancy yourself as a good barterer? Chances are you're not as good as Aurelius, which has just managed to complete the purchase of Connect Books for almost half the value it initially agreed.

In December, turnaround-focused private equity firm Aurelius and struggling Connect Group, the firm which spun out of WHSmith, inked a deal. Aurelius would take on Connect Books for "up to" £11.6m, while Connect Group would be left to focus on its logistics business.

But in January, after a particularly poor period of trading, Aurelius decided it no longer wanted Connect Books and said it could "see no way of financing this transaction".

Read more: Private equity firm Aurelius nearly quintuples earnings as it brushes off accusations from hedge fund Gotham

The firm said it made "several attempts to find a mutually satisfactory solution with Connect Group and the banking partners", but added it appeared "unlikely that the transaction will proceed". It then failed to complete the deal by the deadline at the end of January.

Connect Group, in a rather harried-sounding statement, said it was "considering with its advisers what action it will now take" and raised the threat of legal redress.

It appears Aurelius was obliged to complete the deal, but managed to push the price tag down to a tiny £6m.

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"Despite some challenges, we are very pleased to have completed a deal that is mutually beneficial to all parties," said Aurelius's chief executive Dirk Markus. "Connect Books is an exciting business and one for which Aurelius’ specialism is very well suited."

Aurelius, which has been described by some in the private equity industry as employing "aggressive" tactics to improve a firm's performance, has said it plans to expand the business's international footprint.

After the deal completes, Connect Books – which consists of business-to-business wholesaler Bertram Books, online bookshop Wordery, print and digital content supplier Dawson Books, academic and specialist content sourcers Erasmus & Houtschild and library supplier Bertram Library Services – will be rebranded back to Bertram Group.

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