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Reed Trades Harcourt Education Units to Pearson

The Independent reports that Pearson has bolstered its US assessment and international text book divisions after purchasing two Harcourt units from Reed Elsevier in a $950m deal. The acquisitions of the Harcourt units, which Reed put up for sale in February, follow a spate of activity in the education publishing market with Thomson and Wolters Kluwer also exiting the market.

Pearson has snapped up Harcourt Assessment, a Texan-based exam-testing company, to bolster its existing US assessment business. The testing market has been given a fillip by the “No Child Left Behind” Act in the US that has seen education authorities invest in more stringent testing, but the sector has been hit by local difficulties. Harcourt has recently lost key contracts in the testing space due to problems marking exams. In November, Reed warned that the business would miss its annual growth target for the second consecutive year. Pearson has also purchased Harcourt Education International, an Oxford-based publisher of text books that sells into markets including the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Pearson has previously said it wanted to expand its education publishing business internationally.

The sale of the businesses is expected to complete in stages following regulatory review by the relevant authorities where required, which is also why Reed won’t be buying any more of Harcourt’s arms – so as not to upset the reg board…

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