Haynes Publishing, the company best known for producing car manuals in the days before the internet, has found a buyer three months after putting itself up for sale, the company has confirmed.
French media, information and service company Infopro Digital has agreed to pay £114.5 million for the business – a 62% premium to the share price on Wednesday – putting the business into foreign ownership for the first time in its 60-year history.
The deal, which will see shareholders paid 700p for every share they own, will still need to be voted through at a meeting in the next month or two.
But it is being recommended by the board of both companies and is significantly above the 431p trading price on Wednesday night.
Haynes has spent the last five years re-establishing the business as an online operation and put the listed firm up for sale just eight months after the death of founder John Haynes.
Mr Haynes launched the first manual for the Austin Healey Sprite in 1966 and sold all 3,000 copies within three months.
The decision to publish manuals for the average car owner came after a friend of Mr Haynes bought a Sprite in poor condition and asked him for help to rebuild it.
Realising how difficult the company’s own manuals were to understand and follow, Mr Haynes decided to publish his own – documenting how to dismantle and rebuild an engine.
Founder and chief executive of Infopro Digital, Christophe Czajka, explained his business has “long respected Haynes’ spirit of innovation and its reputation for excellence”.
He added: “With a deeply complementary product set and geographic footprint, the combined companies have an opportunity to serve our clients more effectively and to build on both organisations’ history of creating innovative, transformative products that the automotive industry has come to value.
“We are committed to working together to create a company that will continue to help define the future of automotive data.”
Eddie Bell, chairman of Haynes, said the board felt the deal was “fair and reasonable”.
He added: “The Haynes board believes that the markets it serves have great potential for Haynes’ future growth and development, and that a combination with Infopro Digital will provide Haynes with the scale, capabilities and resources to ensure that it stays at the forefront of these markets and maximises its potential.”