A Merger Is Announced, with Agatha Christie at its heart.

In fact, Coolabi’s proposed acquisition of the literary estate of the best-known detective novelist is more by way of a reverse takeover by the Aim-listed rights company than a merger, and any formal announcement is still a little way off.

But the Financial Times understands that Coolabi is in exclusive talks with Chorion, the privately held intellectual property company that currently owns rights to Agatha Christie Ltd, as well as the literary estates of Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and other crime writers.

They would all be part of the transaction, valued at between £30m and £50m, that would see Coolabi’s management, ex-Chorion executives Jeremy Banks and Nick James, reunited with the Christie archive.

It will be a wrench for Lord Alli, the executive chairman of Chorion, which is controlled by 3i, who recently told the FT that Mrs Christie’s Miss Marple mystery 4:50 From Paddington was his favourite book.

Coolabi shares were suspended yesterday when it told the Stock Exchange that it was in early talks which, if fulfilled, would lead to a reverse takeover because the value of the assets they are chasing would be considerably greater than the acquirer’s market capitalisation of less than £3m.

Agatha Christie is the highest-selling fiction writer of all time, with 2bn books sold, and her 80 novels and short stories, plus 19 plays, have been translated into more than 70 languages.

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