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Wolters Kluwer Adds SilverPlatter Information to Its Collection
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Posted On April 16, 2001
Dutch mega-publisher Wolters Kluwer (http://www.wolterskluwer.com) has acquired SilverPlatter Information, Inc. (http://www.silverplatter.com). The acquisition expands Wolters Kluwer's collection of medical and scientific databases and research tools, and extends its reach into those libraries and medical establishments not already subscribing to products and services from Ovid Technologies (another Wolters Kluwer operation, acquired in 1998). Following regulatory clearance for the acquisition, Wolters Kluwer plans to combine the Norwood, Massachusetts-based SilverPlatter operation with New York-based Ovid, joining Ovid in the International Health and Science cluster. Terms of the deal were not announced. SilverPlatter has annual sales of around $70 million.

Commenting on the acquisition, Steve Arnold, a leading information industry consultant, estimated that several considerations drove the decision by Wolters Kluwer. "By picking up this property in a depressed market, they could stop competitors from acquiring it. The upside would be to complete their hold on the medical information market by picking up customers not using Ovid, acquiring new library customers for expansion outside of medical information, and acquiring SilverPlatter's ancillary business operations. And, if they follow aggressive cost-saving measures, SilverPlatter is likely to be more profitable."

Confirming Arnold's supposition, Hugh Yarrington, a member of Wolters Kluwer's executive board and the person responsible for the International Health and Science cluster, stated: "We are very pleased to add SilverPlatter to our International Health and Science cluster. Our strategy is to offer the best medical and scientific information and research tools on a world-class, technical platform. SilverPlatter's offerings will complement the assets that Wolters Kluwer has already assembled in Ovid Technologies, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Adis International, and Facts and Comparisons. The acquisition is an important step in realizing our vision for the cluster." The acquisition's announcement estimated that it would more than double the size of Wolters Kluwer's presence in the expanding market for electronic medical and scientific information.

Begun in the era of CD-ROM (hence the name), SilverPlatter Information now offers over 250 electronic reference databases in multiple formats, including Web access and intranet and local CD-ROM licensing. Besides a strong collection in medical and life sciences, SilverPlatter also carries general science and technology databases, as well as those in business, the humanities, social sciences, and general reference.

SilverPlatter has over 11,000 institutional customers worldwide, with special market strength in academic libraries and in Europe. It currently employs around 170 people. Its main offices are in Norwood, Massachusetts, and London, with worldwide offices in Amsterdam; Berlin; Bologna, Italy; Hong Kong; Madrid; Paris; and Sydney. It also has a network of some 200 distribution partners around the world that provides technical support, installation assistance, local currency billing, local language marketing, etc. Ovid Technologies complements SilverPlatter with over 5,000 institutional customers worldwide and some 2.5 million individual users, most for medical information in the U.S.

The SilverLinker product connects abstracting-and-indexing entries with over 2.5 million links to over 2 million full-text articles from over 6,500 journals. Full-text linking through the SilverLinker Database connects full text from some 18 publishers—such as Academic Press, CatchWord, Elsevier ScienceDirect, and Wolters Kluwer—and five subscription agents, including Blackwell's Information Services and EBSCO Subscription Services. Ovid has over 9 million links between bibliographic and full-text resources.

Besides its database-licensing activities, SilverPlatter also provides software and database-generation support for a small group of publishers (the "ancillary" functions mentioned by Arnold). Among others, the publishers using this service include the Bibliographic Center for Research, the Association of Christian Librarians, CAB International, Database Productions AB, GBI (German Business Information), H.W. Wilson, and Micromedia.
 
Wolters Kluwer is a multinational information services company with annual sales of approximately EUR 3.7 billion, employing approximately 19,000 people in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. The company's core activities are Legal, Tax and Business, International Health and Science, and Education. According to its annual report, sales grew by 19 percent (12 percent in constant rates) in 2000. Sales in the International Health and Science cluster grew by 25 percent, a growth credited in part to strong performance by Ovid Technologies, Adis International, and Facts and Comparisons.

In this cluster, book sales dropped from 1999; journal sales stayed strong; and Internet sales grew rapidly. In the report, Yarrington stated: "Although expectations about the impact of the Internet on the medical professions are promising, it is only just starting to have an impact on the working lives of doctors. However, in the institutional market [the] integration of the Internet is further ahead, illustrated by the tremendous sales growth of Ovid's Web product."

In 2000, Wolters Kluwer completed 37 acquisitions, with over a third representing software companies in the fields of taxes, accounting, human resources, and health. The immediate market reaction to the announcement was a slight rise in Wolters Kluwer's stock price on the Amsterdam stock exchange—up 0.30 to 29.85.


Barbara Quint is 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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