Thomas Nelson Hands Over Controlling Interest to Secular Investment Firm

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Thomas Nelson joins these distinguished companies which have been acquired by Kohlberg & Company.

Thomas Nelson joins these distinguished companies which have also been acquired by Kohlberg & Company.

Private investment firm Kohlberg & Company has bought a majority stake in Nashville-based Thomas Nelson Publishers.


Thomas Nelson has gone the way of Zondervan, another prominent Christian publisher. They were purchased by NewsCorp who also owns 20th Century Fox Films, Fox Television, HaperCollins Books, the Wall Street Journal, and many other media properties around the world.

According to the Kohlberg web site, “Kohlberg & Company invests in companies where it can work in partnership with senior management to identify growth opportunities and implement fundamental operating and strategic changes, resulting in substantial increases in revenue and cash flow.”

It is unknown at this time whether or not distinctively Christian books will fit into the strategic changes envisioned by Kohlberg & Company, or if they will seek to dilute the book list with topics showing greater religious diversity which they feel could result in greater profits.

James A. Kohlberg is the Chairman of Kohlberg & Company. He is also on the Board of Directors of the New York Times in which his company holds a minority stake.

“We are very excited about what this means for Thomas Nelson’s future in the rapidly evolving publishing industry,” Hyatt said in a news release.

Published on: Jun 16, 2010

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3 Responses

  1. Donald L. Hughes says:

    A Board of Directors has a fiduciary responsibility to its stockholders and/or investors.

    If a majority of the board feels value or profits may be lost if the editorial department takes unpopular views on cultural or religious questions, they will make their will known to management and management will capitulate regardless of present editorial philosophy. The 55% control of the board ensures that they have the final say.

    In the secular world the “Golden Rule” prevails–“He was has the gold makes the rules.” In the Christian world 2 Corinthians 6:12-15 (NKJV) should prevail in order to maintain total freedom when hard editorial decisions need to be made.

    The unfettered voice of the Christian community is put at risk when return on investment is the chief concern of board members who may or may not be sympathetic to the Christian worldview.

  2. Just a couple of thoughts … prior to Kohlberg, the board was controlled by InterMedia Partners, also a “secular” private equity fund. Prior to that, Thomas Nelson was publicly held for almost 50 years. I don’t know if you would consider that “secular” or something else.

    Regardless, the board has never exercised any editorial control or even influence. Boards simply do not get involved in this level of detail.

    Everyone in management—which does control day-to-day operations and editorial philosophy—is a committed Christian.

    Our editorial philosophy is articulated here. It won’t change.

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