As the result of a recent agreement, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and BC Partners will be merging Springer Science+Business Media with the majority of Holtzbrinck-owned Macmillan Science and Education, who publishes both Scientific American and Nature. Doing so will create a publishing group with $1.7 billion (1.5 billion euros) in sales and that has 13,000 employees.
The merger still needs to clear European competition regulators. After the deal is completed, the new publishing group will be under joint control of Holtzbrinck and funds advised by BCP. Holtzbrinck will retain a 53% share. The agreement will not effect Macmillan’s trade and U.S. college publishing divisions.
The supervisory board will be composed of Stefan von Holtzbrinck (Chairman/Holtzbrinck), Ewald Walgenbach (Vice-Chairman/BCP), Michael Brockhaus (Holtzbrinck), Hans Haderer (BCP), Christian Mogge (BCP) and Jens Schwanewedel (Holtzbrinck).
“The deal makes a lot of sense for both sides,” Claudio Aspesi, a media analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in London, told Nature. “From BC Partners’ perspective, there were a lot of questions about what they could do with Springer when they bought it, since much cost-cutting had already been done. Now we know how you can add value to that deal — add the most prestigious journals in the world. For Holtzbrinck, the idea is presumably that they get additional scale for Macmillan, which will give additional funds for any new plans.”
The deal is meant to provide both businesses with the opportunity to better serve their authors, the research community, academic institutions, learned societies and corporate research departments, in addition to the education and learning markets. Once the companies are merged, the leading brands they both produce that researchers, teachers and information professionals rely on will still be offered.
Springer is currently host to about 3,000 titles. Macmillan publishes 160 journals including Nature and research journals. “Combined, these two companies, both deeply rooted in a strong publishing tradition, offer breadth, volume and reach,” Derk Haank, CEO of Springer, told Nature, writes Bob Grant for The Scientist.
However, not everyone is pleased with the news of the merger.
“Are mergers good for users?” Paul Ayris, director of library services at University College, London, asked Nature. “The philosophy of the commercial market is that competition works to bring prices down. On that basis, the concentration of such large publishing volumes in one pair of hands is not good news for users. On the other hand, time will tell,” he added. “Will there be efficiencies by working at such scale, which will reduce costs? We will have to see.”