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'Potter' publisher Bloomsbury buys Walker

NEW YORK — Brit publisher Bloomsbury, which holds the rights to the “Harry Potter” books in the U.K., announced Wednesday that it has acquired indie U.S. firm the Walker Publishing Co., which turns out adult nonfiction and children’s titles.

Deal, set to close Dec. 31, increases the presence of Bloomsbury’s American operations, established in 1998.

Bloomsbury, whose shares soared Tuesday on the London market after J.K. Rowling announced she had completed the sixthmanuscript in the “Potter” series, will pay up to $7 million for Walker. Acquisition isn’t expected to impact earnings in the first year.

While the business operations of Bloomsbury USA and Walker will be combined, the book imprints will remain separate divisions. Expanded company will be run by Bloomsbury USA publisher Karen Rinaldi. George Gibson will remain publisher of Walker but will report to Rinaldi.

“Over time, as the marketplace has become increasingly competitive, we clearly saw the benefits of scale, but finding the right fit was the key. As Bloomsbury shares our passion for authors and readers and for finding innovative ways of reaching them, combining the two companies will make each one stronger,” Gibson said.

In the course of its 45-year history, Walker has published bestselling authors including Isaac Asimov and, on its children’s list, Barbara Cooney and Tomie dePaola. Recently, Gotham-based house published Dava Sobel’s bestselling “Longitude” and “Galileo’s Daughter”; Mark Kurlansky’s “Cod and Salt”; and Ross King’s “Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling.” Walker’s books also include Judith Finchler’s children’s classic “Testing Miss Malarkey.” Walker was founded by Samuel S. Walker Jr.

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