Thursday, May 17, 2007

Apax Appoints Shaffer Exec Chairman and Dunn CEO of Thomson Learning

I could have titled this Groundhog day since there was a rumour going around yesterday about Dave Shaffer returning to Thomson and today it was confirmed. More interesting was the appointment of Ron Dunn as CEO to replace the incumbent Ron Schlosser. On completion of the deal last week, Schlosser's internal memo to staff wasn’t particularly inspiring – more stay the course – than anything, and I guess he knew what was coming. Dunn’s departure from Thomson Learning at the end of 2006 was always a mystery to me since he had been a tireless worker for the business and had been a major factor in the growth of the education business particularly internationally. It will not be the first time Shaffer and Dunn have teamed up and they know each other very well having worked together at Thomson, Macmillan and McGraw Hill. From the press release:
Jackie Reses, Partner at Apax Partners, said: "The Thomson Learning properties
are unique, global media franchises that hold strong positions in their respective markets and have delivered stable and predictable growth. We look forward to working in close partnership with Ron Dunn and Dave Shaffer, two proven media executives who are intimately familiar with the Thomson Learning businesses. Ron and Dave are extremely well suited to lead the newly independent Thomson Learning organization as it builds on its positions within its individual market segments, continues to expand internationally, and captures the enormous potential we believe exists in the evolution to digital content distribution in
post-secondary education."
Both executives will have their work cut out for them, since as I have commented before the Thomson Learning company while possessing significant assets has been left in the dust by Pearson. Pearson has led in growth rate, operating performance and strategic acquisitions over the past three years. Coupled with the importance in migrating content to the web which Pearson has also started to do well with and there will be challenges a plenty. Each of these executives know this business and industry well so they should not be short of ideas or action plans to make the necessary changes.

It should be said also that this will be somewhat a vindication for Ron Dunn in returning to Thomson. I understand that Shaffer was none too pleased with Harringtons decision to part ways with Dunn in 2006.

1 comment:

Robert said...

As someone with limited experience of the big textbooks publishers, I do get the sense that while Thomson has done a better job than Pearson of internal reorganization, Pearson is the more innovative publisher.