Maxwell Printer's Owner Eyes Publishing Deal
A printing group once owned by Robert Maxwell, the disgraced newspaper tycoon, is plotting a merger with one of the UK's biggest independent customer content producers.
Sky News understands that the owner of Polestar, which has been through a string of financial restructurings since Mr Maxwell's death in 1991, is close to announcing a deal to acquire River Group for an undisclosed sum.
The deal will see River bought by Sun European Partners, which has made significant returns from investments in troubled companies, and merged with Polestar, which it bought in 2011.
It will mark the latest chapter in the long and often-chequered history of Polestar, which has had contracts to print leading UK magazines such as Hello!, Grazia and Country Life.
People familiar with the deal said it would underline the extent to which the production of customer content has become a sought-after diversification for companies operating in other parts of the media sector.
River, which is privately owned, is one of the leading creators of content for blue-chip clients such as the Co-operative's Group grocery arm, Honda and Superdrug.
Mr Maxwell's British Printing Corporation and Watmoughs, the once-publicly listed printing group, merged to form what became Polestar.
The company, which prints tens of millions of magazines each week, has been owned by a string of financial investors during the last 20 years.
They have included Investcorp, a Bahrain-based private equity firm, and BlueBay Asset Management.
Polestar also participated in a rescue of Goodhead, a rival printing group backed by Sir John Madejski, the former owner of Reading Football Club.
At one stage, Polestar's huge pension deficit meant it had to be bailed out by the Pension Protection Fund.
A Sun European spokesman declined to comment.