Live Deals: Castle Harlan Eyes Yearbook Company –

Castle Harlan last month inked an agreement to acquire Taylor Publishing Co. from Insilco Holding Co. for approximately $93.48 million. David Pittaway, senior managing director at Castle Harlan, said the firm will provide approximately $20 million in equity and expects the deal to close this month.

Dallas-based Taylor Publishing had 1998 revenue of approximately $100 million, with yearbook publishing representing 91% of its business. The company also has a specialty publishing operation and offers reunion-planning services.

Pittaway said Taylor Publishing serves a growing market and is in a space in which the firm has previously invested. Children from the “mini baby-boom” of the mid-1980s are now entering high school and college, Pittaway said, increasing the number of customers to which Taylor Publishing markets its products.

Additionally, Pittaway said, Castle Harlan knows the high school and college markets through its portfolio company Commemorative Brands, which manufactures and distributes class rings.

With its commitment, Castle Harlan will help Taylor Publishing expand its customer base to include more schools. Setting Taylor apart from its competition, Pittaway said, is the company’s technology advantage-the existence of a proprietary software package that assists customers in the creation of their yearbooks before the books are published.

David Kauer, Insilco president and chief executive, said in a statement that his company divested itself of Taylor Publishing because it does not fit with its core businesses of automotive components and technologies. Insilco also needed to reduce debt, the statement said.

Taylor Publishing’s specialty products include trade books with an emphasis on sports, gardening and health. Among the company’s recent best sellers were professional basketball player Scottie Pippin’s Reach Higher and former professional football player John Elway’s Comeback Kid. Taylor Publishing publishes approximately 35 original titles each year.

Most recently, Castle Harlan purchased Saunders Karp & Megrue’s stake in Wilshire Restaurant Group for $150 million (BUYOUTS Dec. 6, 1999, p. 18). Also, the firm recently developed a partnership with Sydney-based Australian Mezzanine Investments to participate in the private equity markets of Australia (BUYOUTS Nov. 8, 1999, p. 1).

The acquisition of Taylor Publishing will come from Castle Harlan Partners III LP, which closed on $630 million in 1997.