The school of hard knocks

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which slid into bankruptcy last week, lost more than half of its cash reserves between January and March this year, writes Richard Curran.

26th May, 2012
Barry O'Callaghan acquired the US publisher Houghton Mifflin in 2006 for $3.4 billion Photo: Tony O'Shea

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), the giant US publisher that crashed into bankruptcy last week, was losing $18.5 million per week when its creditor banks decided to convert their loans into shares.

Built up by Corkman Barry O'Callaghan from the once stock exchange-listed Riverdeep, HMH had $413 million in cash on January 1 this year. By the end of March, this was down to $190 million, and counting.

The descent into bankruptcy for the business - which employs 3,300 people,...

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