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Houghton Mifflin Jumps in Debut After Book Publisher’s IPO

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Co., the educational book publisher backed by hedge-fund manager John Paulson, surged in its trading debut after pricing its initial public offering below the marketed range.

The stock jumped 32 percent to $15.86 in New York today, giving the Boston-based company a market value of $2.2 billion. The shares were priced at $12 apiece yesterday in the IPO, compared with an initial range of $14 to $16.

“We are very excited about where the stock is trading,” Linda Zecher, Houghton Mifflin’s chief executive officer, said today in an interview. “It’s a great time for the company to take our brand and have a broader recognition.”

Houghton Mifflin emerged from bankruptcy in June of last year, issuing all of its outstanding common stock to lenders in exchange for canceling its secured debt. These shareholders, including Paulson & Co., Avenue Capital Group and BlackRock Inc., raised $219 million selling a 13 percent stake and will receive all the proceeds from the IPO.

The publisher, whose trade segment was established in 1832, is the leading provider in the U.S. of kindergarten through 12th-grade educational content by market share, according to the company’s prospectus. The education segment, its largest business, accounted for 88 percent of sales last year. Houghton’s trade segment includes authors and titles such as J.R.R. Tolkien, “Curious George” and “Life of Pi.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley managed the offering. The shares are listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol HMHC.

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