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Reed To Sell Harcourt Education Arm

Continuing a theme of “anything is for sale,” Reed Elsevier, mirroring moves by major Dutch and U.S. rivals, said it would sell its education arm as it focuses on faster-growing markets such as legal, medical and scientific electronic publishing. Analyst estimates suggested the sale of Harcourt Education could fetch between 1.6 billion and 2.4 billion pounds ($3.2-$4.7 billion). The Telegraph reports that Sir Crispin Davis, chief executive of business publisher Reed Elsevier, expects strong interest from private equity bidders, and indeed, one such bidder – Irish entrepreneur Barry O’Callaghan, who as CEO of Riverdeep already bought out Houghton Mifflin earlier this year – has expressed interest, according to Forbes.

Alastair Osborne sees the larger theme of companies exiting the education business in droves, and comes up with some reasons, including the No Child Left Behind Act and students’ increasing reliance on web-based materials. Such companies, Osborne says, are left with a “stark choice: invest in technology and systems that power interaction between their content and the network (such as school planning, administration and assessment) or exit the business now while valuations remain attractive.

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