Dubai debt disaster makes extra headaches for publishing giant Houghton

Dubai's sudden default last week of $60 billion worth of debt played havoc with the markets, spurred talk of bailouts, and put added stress on an economy just barely showing signs of a turnaround. But it was also another piece of awful news for Education Media & Publishing Group, the troubled, debt-ridden parent company of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the education and trade publisher.

EMPG, a private company based in Dublin and run by Barry O'Callaghan, partnered in 2008 with Istithmar World Capital, a subsidiary of investment company DubaiWorld. The resulting $125 million joint venture, EMPG International, was intended "to bring the education publishing group's products to developing markets."