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Thomsonís Gale Group Acquires MacMillan Library Reference USA
Posted On June 21, 1999
Thomson Corporation ( has agreed to acquire Macmillan Library Reference USA ( from Pearson plc for $86 million. MLR will join the Gale Group, part of Thomson Business Information (TBI), to expand its reference products. MLR comprises a group of publishers that specialize in reference products for the library, secondary education, and college/university markets. During the initial period while the acquisition goes through U.S. antitrust approval and customary closing conditions, Thomson representatives have nothing to announce concerning specific plans for the new acquisition. However, with the track record of management at Gale Group, one could envision new electronic products as part of those future plans.

MLR includes imprints for Scribner's Reference, Macmillan Reference, Thorndike Press, Schirmer, Twayne Publishers, and G. K. Hall. It specializes in the humanities, social sciences, history, and natural sciences. Reference publications from MLR include literary criticism compilations from Twayne, and the Dictionary of American Biography, Dictionary of the Middle Ages, and the Dictionary of Scientific Biography from Scribner's.

Patrick Tierney, president of Thomson Business Information, stated, "Adding MLR's world-class content to Gale will allow us to create the high quality integrated products and services demanded by libraries, schools, and universities around the world. In addition, Gale's electronic publishing proficiency will accelerate the migration of MLR content to the Web. Both companies are passionately devoted to quality which is essential to the creation of the powerful new products our customers desire."

The sale continues Pearson's policy of selling off or shutting down components of the Simon & Schuster acquisition completed in November 1998. Viacom sold the educational, professional, and reference publishing businesses of Simon & Schuster to Pearson for $4.6 billion. They retained the consumer operations and the Simon & Schuster name.

Last month, Pearson Education announced that Macmillan Library Reference would shut down six children's imprintsóSilver-Burdett Press, Dillon Press, Crestwood House, Silver Press, New Discovery, and Julian Messner. During the same month, Pearson sold Jossey-Bass to John Wiley and Sons for $82 million and the Bureau of Business Practices to Wolters Kluwer for $16 million, as well as disposing of Appleton and Lange and Master Data Center for a total of $79 million. Pearson still holds onto Prentice Hall Direct and Macmillan General Reference, but analysts consider those operations also targets for sale. Initially, Pearson had planned to sell most of the reference and business and professional units acquired from Simon & Schuster as a package to the investment firm of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, but the deal was never completed. Pearson filed a lawsuit against the investment firm for calling off the agreement.

Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.

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