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... the editorial blog by Marydee Ojala, Editor of ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals. ONLINE Insider intends to extend the reach of the print publication, presenting a more timely commentary on the products, people, and events that shape today's online world. It explores new technologies as they impact the working lives of information professionals, explains resources for specific topic areas, and expounds on information management tools and techniques.

Thomson & Reuters

Marydee Ojala @ 6:42 am

The Thomson Corporation is certainly busy on the M&A front these days. First they sell Profound, a product of the Thomson Business Inteligence unit that Thomson West plans to eliminate, to MarketResearch.com, which turns out to be small potatoes in the whole “deal” scheme of things. Next it sells Thomson Learning, a move it pre-announced its intent to do, to Apax and OMER. That looked like bigger potatoes at $7.75billion. But now the news of Thomson acquiring Reuters makes even that number look small. Try in the neighborhood of $17.2 billion.

The new company will be headed by Reuters CEO Tom Glocer. The piece that is now Thomson Financial will combine with Reuters and be renamed Reuters. That will certainly give Bloomberg and Dow Jones something to think about. The rest of Thomson (the part with tax, scientific, legal, and healthcare that sells Dialog, DataStar, Westlaw, Web of Science and other databased products to librarians) will become Thomson Reuters Professional. With luck, and I mean a lot of luck, the products vital to information professionals will be resuscitated and not allowed to wither on the vine, as some have been doing over the past few years. I wish I were more optimistic that this would happen. “Our” products are such a small piece of the overall product mix that we are the really small potatoes in this deal. We need to make sure we’re not the potatoes smashed in this merger process.

Thomson Learning Sale

Marydee Ojala @ 8:41 am

It was last Autumn when The Thomson Corporation announced its intention to divest itself of its Thomson Learning Division. The rumored asking price was $5 billion. Yesterday Thomson made it official that the buyer is equity fund Apax Partners and pension fund OMERS Capital Partners. Must have been a bidding war for Learning, proving it more valuable than Thomson thought, since the sale price is $7.75 billion. That’s quite a hefty premium and will no doubt bolster Thomson’s proposed acquisition of Reuters.

Thomson Learning has always struck me as a hodge podge of companies — it includes Wadsworth, Delmar Learning, Gale, Heinle, Brooks/Cole, South-Western, and Nelson Canada. If it were up to me, which it obviously isn’t, I’d probably split it up and sell off pieces. Gale could certainly be split up into the three entities that originally formed it. I’d sort of like to see IAC reconstituted as a pure database company. The Gale Directories could possibly be grouped with other book publishing pieces of the ex-Thomson Learning.

It’s too early to know the intentions of Apax and OMERS. The deal won’t close until the third quarter of 2007.

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