What do they know that we don’t?

Eoin Purcell

The Thomson Sales
Thomson sells its Thomson Learning division for $7.75 billion or £3.9 billion depending on your currency. Not only is this a great deal more than was originally floated, it is also a huge boost for Thomson’s $17.6 billion mooted bid for Reuters. An interesting piece by Personanondata gives some detail:

It was approximately 1o months ago that Richard Harrington causually mentioned to the FT that they would consider selling the Learning unit. By October the divesture was confirmed and the sale process started once the final year end numbers were finalized. Any observer of the manner in which Thomson spoke and presented its business would have seen strong indications that Learning did not feature in their plans. The detail and excitment given over to Thomson Financial during the analysts calls was indication enough. Speculation suggested that a price between $5.5 and $6.0billion would be good news for Thomson. As it turns out, Thomson management has kept one step ahead of everyone with some suggesting that the recently announced merger with Reuters has been in the works for two years and their post merger plans indicate that the merger with Reuters has indeed been long in the planning. The extra billion they are getting for Learning will really help out the Reuters deal which looks increasingly cheap.

Cui bono
The question that strikes me is the way these deals have been getting so expensive. Who on earth is going to gain (the obvious exception of the seller) from a deal where a billion more than was expected changes hands for assets that re threatened as much as any publisher by digital and internet technologies. If you read Personanondata daily (as I should and if you are in publishing you should too) you will see that Educational Publishing has been exceptionally active recently. I think there is a smart motive behind all this, the move of learning online just like the authors of Nine Shift suggested a good while ago:

Shift Eight. Half of all learning is online.

The traditional classroom rapidly becomes obsolete. Half of all learning is done online, changing the nature of how we learn and how we teach.

Shift Nine. Education becomes web-based.

Brick and mortar schools and colleges of the past century become outdated. All education becomes web-based, providing a better education for both young people and adults.

But I could be wrong and so I wonder, is there more that I don’t know?

Pondering deeply
Eoin

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