Closing date on deal hasn't been set.

Baker & Taylor, the books, video and music wholesaler based in Charlotte, N.C., will be sold for $455 million to Castle Harlan, a private equity firm. Willis Stein & Partners, which bought the company in 2003, appears to pocket $200 million profit on the deal as that private equity firm paid $255 million for the wholesaler in June 2003. A closing date on the deal hasn't been set yet, says Appel.

The deal was announced this afternoon (May 11) after Billboard.biz sister site, The Book Standard, reported earlier today that a deal was imminent.

Willis Stein & Partners, which acquired the wholesaler from another private equity firm, the Carlyle Group, put the wholesaler up for sale in November 2005, hiring Goldman Sachs to shop the company (See Billboard.biz, Dec. 5).

In a statement, Castle Harlan vice chairman Gary Appel, said the “experienced management team led by B&T president and CEO Richard Willis will continue to manage the business as partners, retaining an ownership stake in the company.

Appel noted that B&T is a leader in the book, music and video business, which “shows very strong and consistent year-to-year growth.”

Under Willis Stein’s stewardship, B&T revenue has grown to about $1.6 billion, according to Appel, from the $1.2 billion it garnered during its fiscal 2003, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are in the $65-to-$75-million range, sources say, well up from the $42 million the company generated then.

By product line, books are by far the largest generator of revenue for the company, with music and video combined said to account for about 15% of revenue.

Since its inception in the late 1960’s, Castle Harlan has invested $8 billion in 43 acquisitions. None of its current investments are in the book, music or video industry.

Although the firm has a highly successful track record, its one foray into the music and video industries didn’t end well. In 1993 it paid $35 million to buy the Strawberries chain, but that deal ended when the chain filed bankruptcy in 1997 and was sold by its creditors to Trans World Entertainment.