Riverdeep buys US publisher for US$4bn

17 Jul 2007

In what has been described as the third largest acquisition in Irish corporate history, unstoppable businessman Barry O’Callaghan’s Riverdeep has acquired Reed Elsevier’s US education division Harcourt Education for US$4bn (€2.9bn).

This deal comes within months of Riverdeep’s acquisition of another US publisher Houghton Mifflin in a €3.2bn deal.

The motive behind the acquisition of Harcourt is to expand sales to US schools of Riverdeep’s e-learning products.

Riverdeep will pay US$3.7bn in cash and US$300m in shares. The sale is expected to be completed late this year or early in 2008.

Harcourt Education publishes books for students and teachers from pre-kindergarten through to high school, adult education and general interest.

The school textbook market that Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep is targeting is estimated to be valued at US4$bn a year in revenue. Total spending in the US on education last year amounted to US$540m.

By John Kennedy