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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 (

Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier ( had announced on October 27, 2000 that it would buy U.S. rival Harcourt General, Inc. ( 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. ( for $2.06 billion. [See the November 6, 2000 NewsBreak at] 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 ( 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

Enhanced PAIS Database Now Available on OCLC FirstSearch

OCLC has announced that an enhanced version of public policy database PAIS International is now available on the OCLC FirstSearch service. The enhanced PAIS International includes new indexing and record displays, which make searching the database faster, easier, and more flexible. PAIS International on FirstSearch now features links to full text from other databases and electronic journals within FirstSearch, allowing users to access a growing number of articles online.

In addition, PAIS International on FirstSearch provides users with easy access to library holdings information and allows them to limit their searches to items held by their own library or to specific library collections. The link from FirstSearch to the OCLC Interlibrary Loan service lets users submit loan requests for materials they need quickly and efficiently. PAIS International on FirstSearch also integrates selected Web sites, as well as directory information for the journals, publishers, and distributors it covers. The materials included in the PAIS International database go back to 1972.

"The enhancements added to PAIS in January make it more valuable than ever to researchers investigating topics in world affairs, public policy, and the social sciences," said Lori Saviers, director of product marketing and licensing for OCLC's Reference and Resource Sharing Division. "PAIS International's global scope and inclusion of non-English-language materials make it an attractive resource for libraries around the world."

"Users will be very pleased with reloaded PAIS International's improved accessibility and, by extension, usability with the new FirstSearch functionality," said Debra Spruill, executive director of OCLC PAIS. "There are 17 new access points, including links to URLs and e-mail from the citations. And with links to FirstSearch full text, PAIS International is new again on FirstSearch."

PAIS ( and OCLC ( merged in January 2000.

Source: OCLC

Fact City Announces Partnership with Thomson Financial Solutions

Fact City ( has announced a partnership with Thomson Financial Solutions ( to distribute corporate and financial data on Internet portals that subscribe to Fact City's syndicated services. With this agreement, Fact City provides users with a way to ask questions online and instantly receive answers compiled from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings of more than 12,000 companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges. The service is available immediately on search engines and portals in the Fact City network, including the home-page search box at

According to the announcement, Fact City enables Internet users to query this data in many ways, including natural language questions. For example, a user can ask, "What were the 1997 and 1998 net sales, research-and-development expenses, and net income of Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems?," and instantly receive a table displaying the data requested. Every answer includes attribution to Thomson Financial Solutions as well as context-sensitive links to related information. Thomson Financial Solutions sources all data changes and updates from documents filed with the SEC, plus company-supplied Annual Reports to shareholders and other publicly available reports.

Source: Fact City

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli
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