“We consider that Presses Universitaires de France is a part of the country’s cultural heritage,” Francois de Varenne, head of Scor’s global investments, said in an interview. “Scor had to play its role of responsible investor to revitalize this company and guarantee its future.”
France’s largest reinsurer pledged to invest “significantly less” than 10 million euros ($13.6 million) in a reserved rights issue by the publisher, de Varenne said. The supervisory board of the Presses Universitaires de France, also known as PUF, agreed to the proposal and its shareholders will meet by the end of March to vote on the deal, de Varenne said.
Scor’s purchase of PUF stems from an interest held in the academic world by Chief Executive Officer Denis Kessler, who has taught economics, de Varenne said. PUF, which had annual revenue of 13.5 million euros in 2012, should stem losses “within a few years” helped by investments to improve its online offerings, de Varenne said.
PUF, which has also published an environmental text authored by Electricite de France SA’s CEO Henri Proglio, is 55.6 percent owned by Libris, a holding grouping of about 2,500 authors, de Varenne said.
Founded in 1921 as a cooperative of French university professors, PUF’s flagship bookshop on the Place de la Sorbonne closed in the past decade. Its publications include the well-known ‘Que sais-je?’, or “What do I Know?” -- a series of short books covering areas as varied as Plato’s philosophy, Charles Darwin’s theories and the history of French navy, according to its website.
PUF, based in Paris, also publishes dozens of magazines in humanities. Scor’s purchase was reported today by Les Echos.
Scor has less than 100 million euros invested in non-listed equity in companies including HJ Heinz Co. The French reinsurer’s investments in listed equities amounted to 4 percent of its 22.3 billion euros invested assets at the end of September and the company doesn’t aim to “significantly” increase the proportion over the next three years, de Varenne said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Fabio Benedetti-Valentini in Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org