Given all the hype about private equity interest in publishing and media it is interesting that two huge deals come somewhat out of the blue. Wiley has purchased Blackwell which will fit very well with that company and both will be able to leverage their collective expertise around the world. Both Wiley and Blackwell have strong positions in the UK and International markets but Blackwell will definitely get a boost in the US and Australia/New Zealand. This combination will also better support their growth into the Asian and Indian markets. I think it is a perfect deal for both. Obviously, the fact that Blackwell were for sale is not as much a surprise as hearing of the Reader's Digest sale. In the case of Blackwell they have suffered through some family issues and had reorganized about a year ago with new management directed to get the company into shape.
Reader's Digest has been under pressure for a number of years with a declining market and reduced direct marketing effectiveness. In the past five years or so they have restructured and infused the organization with new management and new thinking which has started to bear some fruit. No telling where this company would have been if it remained on the same path it was seven or eight years ago. The wonder now will be whether RD embarks on an acquisition process to further strengthen its revenue base.
Wiley: Press Release
Blackwell: Oxford Mail
Readers Digest: New York Times