Magazine article Information Today

Bowker for Sale, All or in Parts

Magazine article Information Today

Bowker for Sale, All or in Parts

Article excerpt

Reed Elsevier plans to sell off several of its major reference publishing operations, specifically Bowker (http://www.bowker.com), Bowker U.K., D.W. Thorpe, Marquis Who's Who, and the smaller reference publications of National Register Publishing Directories. At present, executives hope the company can sell the operations as units, but if not, it will sell specific products. According to John Lawler, president and CEO of Reed Elsevier New Providence (http://www.reedref.com), the move represents Reed Elsevier's intent to "focus on four major markets: scientific, legal, business-to-business, and education."

The divestiture encompasses those entities mentioned above. Andrew Meyer, Reed Elsevier's vice president of administration, told me that not all the publications of these operating units will be sold. Reed Elsevier plans to hold on to such prominent advertising directories as the Advertising Red Books, the Directory of Corporate Affiliations, and America's Corporate Finance Directory. Smaller directories from the National Register, such as the Official Catholic Directory, will be sold off. Reed Elsevier will also retain Marquis' Official American Board of Medical Specialties directory and Bowker's Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook. The yearbook will return to Cahners, the Reed Elsevier subsidiary that publishes the Broadcasting and Cable trade press periodical and to which R.R. Bowker reports. Cahners had apparently handed over the publication of the yearbook directory since it suited Bowker's capability as a reference publisher better than Cahners, which specializes in the production of periodicals.

All of Bowker's prominent library products will go with the sale, including Books In Print, Literary Marketplace, and the American Library Directory. (Reed Elsevier had originally purchased Bowker in August 1985.) The sale will be handled by Berkery, Noyes and Co. (http://www.berkerynoyes.com) in New York. Berkery, Noyes has handled other major publication divestitures and acquisitions, including the divestiture of Springfield Corp. by Reed Elsevier to Wolters Kluwer, the sale of Mayfield Publishing to McGraw-Hill, and the acquisition of K.G. Saur Verlag by Thomson.

Lawler indicated that the sale would enhance Reed Elsevier's "aggressive growth policy of both new-product development and acquisitions. …

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