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Thomsonís Gale Group Acquires K.G. Saur from Reed Elsevier
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Posted On September 25, 2000
Thomson continues its empire-building with another acquisition. This time Thomson's Gale Group has purchased K.G. Saur, the prominent German publisher of biographical and other scholarly reference books, from Reed Elsevier. The new acquisition gives Gale a base for extending its marketing in continental Europe. Gale hopes to grow its international business rapidly, expanding on its prominent image in the North American reference marketplace. The German Bundeskartellamt approved the purchase the same day Gale signed the contract.

Based in Munich, Germany, the 50-year-old K.G. Saur specializes in library-reference sources, publishing nearly 2,000 reference works in print, microfilm, and electronically. Reed Reference Publishing purchased the company in 1987, but, according to a Gale Group source, had not marketed or integrated Saur products into its reference offerings. With Reed Elsevier in the midst of an overhaul at the moment, Gale Group saw its opportunity to acquire this company. Allen Paschal, CEO of Gale Group, suspects that Reed may find some of its reference sources less viable in the Web age.

Gale Group itself combines reference publishing for libraries, schools, and businesses from the former Gale Research book publishing operation with full-text aggregations of periodical literature from the former Information Access Co. operation. With over 600 databases in its product line, Gale has a much more active digital-database operation than Saur and hopes to rapidly build up the Saur electronic operation. Gale Group includes such reference imprints as Macmillan Reference USA, Charles Scribner's Sons, Primary Source Microfilm, UXL, Thorndike Press, and Graham & Whiteside.

According to Paschal: "K.G. Saur is a perfect fit with Gale Group's growth strategy and publishing program. Like Gale, it's an established leader in providing reference information. Its reference specialties of humanities, biography, and general reference fit with Gale's product line, and it has a respected brand in the marketplace. But Saur's presence is in different geographical areas. International expansion is one of our key growth strategies and this acquisition makes the Gale Group the leading international reference publisher." Paschal indicated that Gale Group and Thomson had been tracking Saur for some time, watching the changing directions in Reed Elsevier's reference publishing before making their move.

Gale plans to use Saur as both an editorial and marketing hub in continental Europe, possibly even expanding the 90-person staff there. Saur will continue to operate as an independent unit at its Munich offices. Klaus Saur, managing director of K.G. Saur, said: "I am personally delighted to join the Gale Group. It's a great opportunity for growth with a company that shares our passion for creating quality information products for library and educational institutions worldwide."

Paschal told us that in the European market, K.G. Saur and Klaus Saur personally have a very prominent and respected brand name as well as a strong management team. He considers Saur's biographic directories and reference works of particular value and plans to add that content to Gale's Web and print products. Sixty percent of Saur's data is already in English, 35 percent in German, and 5 percent in other languages. Gale plans a major commitment of resources to digitize the wealth of content from Saur, according to Paschal.

Paschal described the acquisition as one of the first steps to globalize Gale's products. Gale already owns Graham & Whiteside in the U.K.


Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.


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