If you thought the world of Mergers & Acquisitions was hard to follow in the library systems marketplace, well buckle up for content providers.
The Thomson Corporation has sold off its assets in Thomson Learning to Apax Partners and OMERS Capital Partners, for a total of about $7.75 billion in cash. (I love seeing “in cash.” . . . “Hey, can you break a trillion? I left my billions in my other wallet.”) The transaction includes Thomson Gale, Wadsworth, Delmar Learning, Brooks/Cole, and South-Western, and comes as no surprise since the intent was announced last fall. Details of the plan are laid out in a very long pdf document.
What might be a surprise is the near-simultaneous announcement that Thomson has made a $17.2-billion bid to buy Reuters, a deal that still requires approval. The combination of the two companies would reportedly result in the biggest provider of news and data in professional markets.
Assuming the deal goes through, Reuters CEO Tom Glocer would become CEO of the new company. Thomson President and CEO Richard J. Harrington would retire at the completion of the transaction.
All of this has me thinking about library software valued in the tens to hundreds of millions and its comparison to all that content out there, valued in the tens to hundreds of billions. As equity firms began to gobble up the software side of the house, I kept wondering, who woke up one day and decided “libraries—that’s where the money is!”? As a colleague and I were recently discussing, it’s not billions they see, but an industry ripe for (continuing) consolidation. Clearly, the folks with the billions see that in the content arena as well.
It got me wondering . . . is consolidation such a bad thing? That’s an only slightly rhetorical question that I plan to cover next week.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]