A puzzle book firm that cashed in on the craze for the Sudoku number game was bought by the company behind The Beano and The Dandy for £85m today.
Puzzler Media, which has a 50% share of the UK puzzle market, was acquired by DC Thomson after more than doubling in value over the last three-and-a-half years.
It marks a major profit for the management of Puzzler Media, who hold 30% of the company, with the rest going to investment firm ABN AMRO.
Redhill, Surrey-based Puzzler Media was founded in 1973 and has been boosted by the recent popularity of Sudoku.
It has about 50 puzzle magazines including four Sudoku titles and sells Sudoku games to national newspapers including The Guardian, The Express and The Mirror.
Its leading titles include Puzzler, Puzzler Collection and Puzzler Sudoku.
The firm was bought in April 2002 in a £36.7m management buyout with the backing of ABN AMRO and has moved into new areas such as mobile phone games, web-based games and interactive television.
Mel Lewis, managing director of Puzzler Media, said: “Clearly Sudoku is invigorating the UK puzzle market. The beauty is it’s brought a completely different audience who are much younger and more affluent.”
He said internet and mobile phone-based games would be large drivers of growth going forward, as would the firm’s move into new countries such as Russia and India.
He said Sudoku was spawning a “whole host” of similar puzzles, adding: “We are moving into a period of number-based, logic-based puzzles. We don’t see our more traditional titles showing the same electrifying growth.”
DC Thomson, based in Dundee, publishes Scottish newspapers such as The Courier, The Evening Telegraph and The Sunday Post as well as its comics and magazines such as Shout.
The management team will be staying on with the new owners.