Academic Publishing Giant Springer For Sale
The world's second-biggest publisher of scientific research journals is being groomed for a sale that is likely to value it among Europe's largest private equity transactions since the credit crisis.
I have learned that EQT, a Swedish investment firm, and the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore (GIC) are in the process of hiring investment banks to solicit offers for Springer Science and Business Media.
Based in Germany, Springer's journals are distributed widely throughout Europe and have a prominent presence in the UK.
People close to the situation say that the company, which made about £250m of profit in 2011, is likely to be valued at £2.5bn or more when a sale process begins next year.
EQT and GIC are expected to pursue a so-called dual-track process through which they will explore both an outright sale as well as a stock market listing for Springer, which would be likely to take place in Frankfurt.
The decision to exit their investment will be noted by rival British publishers such as Reed Elsevier and Informa, although it is unlikely that either company will bid for Springer.
Informa pulled out of a deal to buy Springer in December 2009 amid pressure from shareholders unhappy about the stewardship of the company.
The market for scientific, technical and medical publishing has historically been lucrative, although the main players have been wrestling with changing dynamics in the market because of moves to liberalise access to much of its content.
The environment for large debt-led buyouts of companies has been subdued since the credit crisis began in 2008 because of the comparative dearth of credit.
EQT declined to comment.