The latest movement on the merry-go-round of information industry mergers and acquisitions is the purchase by Informa Group PLC of the Elsevier Business Intelligence (EBI) unit. Customers were notified individually at the end of November, but no formal announcement has yet occurred and EBI’s URL remains elsevierbi.com. An Elsevier Business Intelligence spokesperson speculated that the unit would be renamed Informa Business Intelligence at the beginning of January 2014 but could not absolutely confirm this. He did say that all the publications and staff were transferring from Elsevier to Informa at the beginning of 2014.
Elsevier Business Intelligence
Elsevier Business Intelligence was cobbled together from previous Elsevier acquisitions—F-D-C Reports, Inc. in 1994 and Windhover Information, Inc. in 2008 (Windhover acquired Medtech Insight, LLC in 2004). It publishes some of the most prestigious newsletters for the healthcare industry. F-D-C, which started publishing in 1939, was known for its newsletters of many colors. EBI’s painted ponies include The Gold Sheet (international pharmaceutical manufacturing quality assurance and quality control), The Gray Sheet (medical devices and diagnostic industries), The Pink Sheet (biopharma regulatory, legislative, legal, and business developments), The Rose Sheet (cosmetics, skin care, and fragrance industry coverage), The Silver Sheet (medical device quality control), and The Tan Sheet (nonprescription pharmaceutical and dietary supplement industries).
The other newsletters on EBI are In Vivo (biopharma, medtech, and diagnostics industries), Medtech Insight (surgical, orthopedic, cardiovascular markets), PharmAsia News (Asian market), Pharmaceutical Approvals Monthly (drug approvals by the FDA), START-UP (profiles of leading-edge companies and technologies), Health News Daily (healthcare issues for prescription and nonprescription pharmaceuticals and medical devices), and The RPM Report (regulation and policy). It also has a deals database called Strategic Transactions, which integrates with its newsletters.
Informa Group PLC
Informa, also the product of the circle game of mergers and acquisitions, is currently structured into three divisions—Academic (Taylor & Francis), Professional & Commercial (Informa Business Information and Informa Financial Information), and Events & Training. Its registered office is in Jersey, U.K., and its head office is in Zug, Switzerland. Informa’s history page at its main website traces the company’s origins to 1734. That’s the first appearance of what was to become Lloyd’s List. Lloyd’s List Publishing merged with IBC Group PLC in 1998 to form Informa Group PLC.
Its pharmaceutical strength stems from its 2003 acquisition of PJB Publications Ltd., which gave it Scrip, along with other titles. It acquired market research firm Datamonitor in 2007, which includes some pharmaceutical reports. Datamonitor also covers many other industry sectors. Additionally, Informa has a strong presence in the clinical trials and pipeline information sector with its Citeline product, which specializes in research and development intelligence.
There’s an obvious fit between EBI and Informa’s Professional & Commercial division, while the EBI conferences could find a home with Informa’s Events & Training division. Informa’s Interim Management Statement, released on Oct. 21, 2013, stated that revenue for the Professional & Commercial Information piece of its business declined by 3.6% in the first 9 months of the year. Informa doubtless believes the EBI acquisition will turn a revenue decline into profits. However, it’s unclear why Elsevier decided to divest itself of the unit. During 2013 Elsevier has been more in the news for its acquisitions—Mendeley, Woodhead Publishing, Knovel, and Aureus Sciences.
The question for information professionals revolves around the platform. The needs of pharmaceutical industry researchers stretch far beyond simply reading and searching the text of newsletters. They require heavily fielded databases and hyper-accurate thesauri to run effective research projects. Fear exists that the new ownership will try to simplify the search process to appeal to a wider audience and in the process dilute the value to professional searchers.
EBI focuses its energies and its products on one industry; Informa’s product line is much more diverse, covering many industries. Information professionals worry that their very particular vocabularies (in vivo versus in vitro or medical devices versus medical diagnostics versus diagnostic devices, for example) could get lost on a new carousel of pharmaceutical industry intelligence. An integrated platform sounds intriguing, but the concern is what is lost in the consolidation process. Information professionals do not want to be held captive on any specific carousel. Depending upon how well Informa integrates EBI into its existing pharmaceutical research products, the addition of these influential publications and conferences creates interesting competitive pressures for Thomson Reuters’ Cortellis platform and for Wolters Kluwer Health.