Riverdeep buys US publisher for US$4bn


17 Jul 2007

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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