Media: Lifeline - Future Publishing

The publisher's chequered fortunes have taken another turn for the worse.

1985: The computer journalist Chris Anderson (pictured) launches Future with a £10,000 bank loan. It is ideally placed to profit from the late-80s boom in home computing - and especially computer games. Launches include Amstrad Action, PC Plus and Sega Power.

1994: Future has grown vigorously through launches and acquisitions in the early 90s and by 1993 is identified as Britain's fastest-growing publisher, specialising in the computer and special interest (everything from mountain bikes to needlecraft) sectors. But in 1994, Anderson decides to cash in and sells the company to Pearson New Entertainment Europe.

1999: But when Pearson sells to a venture capital consortium, Anderson returns as its non-executive chairman and the company floats on the London Stock Exchange. It has now grown to a significant international outfit, with divisions in France, Italy, Germany and the US, as well as in the UK.

2002: As Anderson bows out once more - the company is now headed by its chief executive, Greg Ingham (pictured) - Future reports pre-tax losses of £121 million in 2001 before closing 45 titles in 2002. The closures bring debt under control.

2006: Following a year of vigorous expansion in the UK (including 11 launches and the acquisition of 57 titles, 38 of them from the troubled Highbury House), more than 20 per cent is wiped off the value of Future's shares as it issues a profits warning. It cites challenging market conditions, which are holding back prospects for the year ahead.

Fast forward ...

2008: Having entered another rapid growth phase, Future is now one of Europe's largest publishers. It is still a specialist publisher but its geographical spread and strong portfolio begin to attract consumer publishers and a bidding war between IPC and Emap seems imminent. As Future's management prepares to mount a defence, a desperate search begins for Anderson's phone number.