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Weekly News Digest

February 26, 2001 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITI’s Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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Proposed Reed-Elsevier Acquisition of Harcourt Delayed

On the advice of the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT), Kim Howells, the U.K. Minister of State for Competition and Consumer Affairs, has referred the proposed acquisition of Harcourt General, Inc. by Reed Elsevier, Inc. to the Competition Commission. In a statement, Howells said that the proposed acquisition raises competition concerns that "relate to the market power which the merged company would have in the market for scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals, and which could have an adverse effect on competition in that market." The Commission is to make its report by May 28, 2001 (http://www.dti.gov.uk).

Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier (http://www.r-e.com) had announced on October 27, 2000 that it would buy U.S. rival Harcourt General, Inc. (http://www.harcourtgeneral.com) for $4.5 billion and then would sell the college textbook division and other assets—including a large part of the corporate and professional division—to Canadian publishing rival Thomson Corp. (http://www.thomcorp.com) for $2.06 billion. [See the November 6, 2000 NewsBreak at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=17713] The transaction was expected to close in the first quarter of this year, but will now be delayed during the inquiry.

Crispin Davis, chief executive of Reed Elsevier, said: "We remain convinced that we have a strong case in support of our acquisition of Harcourt. We do not believe that it will have any adverse effect on the public interest, nor any significant implications for the competitive environment. Indeed, we believe there is a compelling logic to our proposals to acquire the Harcourt businesses which will benefit customers. We look forward to explaining the merits of the acquisition to the Commission."

When the deal was announced, analysts and various organizations speculated that regulators might require certain divestitures as a condition of approval. The Association of Research Libraries (http://www.arl.org) has been meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice, hoping to block the sale.

Sources: U.K. Department of Trade and Industry; Reed-Elsevier; Association of Research Libraries



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