Posted: Friday 13 July 2012
Morton Fraser LLP is delighted to announce that it recently advised Witherby Publishing Group Limited on its re-structuring to conclude the exit of Alan and Kathleen Witherby from the company. As part of the re-structuring, Alan Witherby has become Honorary Life President of the company and Andrew Collins has become Non-Executive Chairman.
The origins of Witherby Publishing Group, which is the oldest independent publisher in the English-speaking world, can be traced to 1740 in London, around the time that ‘Lloyd’s List’, one of the world’s oldest running journals, was first published at Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House. Early business included the preparation of contracts between merchants and owners of ships and the insurance clauses associated with them. 270 years later, the company still supplies insurance clauses to the commercial marine market.
In 2008, Witherby Publishing merged with Seamanship International, a Scottish company that had found its niche in delivering high quality, marine-focussed content. While Seamanship provided content through a range of differing delivery mechanisms and media, it had exceptional expertise in the sector of electronic publishing. Under the terms of the 2008 merger, the Witherbys retained 50% of the shares for the first 4 years before being obliged to exit.
The primary drive for the 2008 deal was to keep the company independent and to ensure its long term future as a specialist publisher.
Since 2008, Witherby Publishing Group has been based entirely in Livingston and will continue to be run there by Iain Macneil and Kat Heathcote. Iain is an ex-mariner who set up Seamanship International to design and develop training and reference materials for the shipping industry. Kat, who has a background in the energy business including with BP and Wood McKenzie, joined the company in 2004. The company has customers in over 180 different countries and has won a variety of awards including the Seatrade Award for best IT Application, The Lloyds List Training award and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade.
Austin Flynn, Partner with Morton Fraser and Head of the Services for Business Team, commented: “We have been advising Witherby Publishing Group for many years now and advised on the 2008 takeover as well as the recent re-structuring. We are delighted to have been involved in the latest phase of the company’s development and hope to continue supporting the management team in its further growth.”