$3 billion publishing deal

Alisa Roth Nov 29, 2006


SCOTT JAGOW: Looks like we’ll have a big deal in the publishing business today. An Irish software company is reportedly buying Houghton Mifflin outta Boston for more than $3 billion. That’s almost three times what private equity firms paid for Houghton Mifflin four years ago. Alisa Roth tells us more.

ALISA ROTH: Houghton Mifflin is one of the biggest textbook publishers in the country for the K through 12 market.

Riverdeep is a privately-held educational software company whose market is still relatively small.

Kathy Mickey follows the educational publishing business for Simba Information. She says the deal gives Houghton Mifflin much-needed technology and gives Riverdeep a ready-made market.

KATHY MICKEY: “The underlying expectation throughout the industry is that technology obviously is the wave of the future. And in this particular case, for Houghton Mifflin, they get that.”

Only one other textbook company currently has a significant technology division. So the new Houghton-Mifflin Riverdeep business will be well-placed to compete.

But it also faces some significant challenges in the finance department. Riverdeep will pay top dollar — more than $3 billion — for the Boston-based publisher. And it’s acquiring a big chunk of debt from the current owners as well.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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