It’s the holiday season. What do you buy for the content provider who already has everything (or at least a strong stake in natural sciences, social sciences, technology, arts, and humanities)? Well, if you had $222 million you could have bought ProQuest Information and Learning (PQIL) for the Cambridge Information Group. But you probably don’t have that kind of cash lying around. No worries, CIG bought PQIL for itself.
In a press release issued yesterday morning, CIG announced its intention to combine its subsidiary, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA), with the ProQuest division, which includes ProQuest, Chadwyck-Healey, UMI, Micromedia ProQuest, Serials Solutions, SIRS, eLibrary, and CultureGrams. The new privately held company will maintain operations in both CIG’s Bethesda, Maryland, and PQ’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, locations.
Voyager Expanded Learning, ProQuest Learning Page (Reading A-Z), and ExploreLearning are ProQuest Education product brands and are not affected by the pending acquisition.
Martin Kahn, former chairman of business and financial information aggregator OneSource Information Services, Inc., will take the reins as CEO of the integrated organization in Ann Arbor; Matt Dunie, president of CSA, will become president of the newly combined organization and work from Bethesda. Skip Prichard, president of PQIL, will manage PQIL until the closing of the deal and then pursue other opportunities.
In a financial turnaround, ProQuest’s earnings look to be in the black for 2006, following the company’s self-disclosure last year of accounting irregularities that overstated earnings for the years 2000-2005. The sale of such a large division, rumored to be in the works for some time now, will certainly help improve the murky financial picture for ProQuest company. Nevertheless, ProQuest shares dropped to a new 52-week low of $9.50 on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, before moving up to $10.24, down $3.43 or 25 percent overall for the day.
So the information world continues to get a little smaller–or a little bigger, I guess, depending on how you look at it or which side of the transaction one stands on. These combined companies will support a customer base of more than 25,000 libraries, in dozens of countries, serving up hundreds of data sources and several software solutions. Looking at our industry from a purely business perspective, I would still challenge anyone who suggests that content is no longer king.