Bloomsbury Buys Tottel, Some Thoughts

Eoin Purcell

Bloomsbury’s canny acquisition streak continues
Yet again, Bloomsbury have shown that they possess a very clear strategy when it comes to acquisitions. Today they announced that they intend to acquire Tottel Publishing in a modest deal (in the overall shape of things):

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (“Bloomsbury”) announces today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Tottel Publishing Limited (“Tottel”), an independent professional and academic publisher in the UK and Ireland. The offer to acquire the entire share capital of Tottel “debt free” will be satisfied by a cash consideration of £9.96m and upon completion Tottel Publishing Ltd will be renamed Bloomsbury Professional.

For the 12 month period ended 28 February 2009, Tottel generated revenue of £6.25m, operating profit of £0.93m and EBITDA of £1.19m (which included acquisition goodwill of £0.249m). The gross assets of the business at that date were £3.58m. Tottel was founded in 2004 and employs 27 people. The acquisition is expected to be immediately earnings enhancing.

Coming on top of their acquisition of Berg, Arden Shakespeare and the launch of Bloomsbury Academic, this really is a sign o where Bloomsbury see its future (as if following those, any was needed). To top it all off they offered us some insight into their thinking:

Bloomsbury has identified academic and professional publishing as a growing niche sector. The proposed acquisition of Tottel fulfils a strategic objective of Bloomsbury in pursuing opportunities in this market and follows from the acquisitions of Methuen, Berg Publishers, and The Arden Shakespeare and the set up of Bloomsbury Academic. Bloomsbury now has a solid platform in this sector and will continue to expand by exploring further strategic acquisitions.

As I have noted before these strategic acquisitions are perfectly suited to digital plays and they seem clear on the potential themselves:

Much of its revenue is subscription-based and in dynamic and fast-moving areas, making its information ideal for online delivery. The company already has a number of valuable online agreements in place, and will be seeking to build on these as it migrates its revenue online over the next two to three years. It already has an extensive e-book programme.

Oddly enough the approach that Bloomsbury are taking to their acquisitions is now reminiscent of the CRH (a large Irish-based multinational Building Product Group) approach which has always impressed me. It is hard to find a fault in this new acquisition and it seems to me that while everyone is busy trying to figure out how trade publishing can survive the digital shift, Bloomsbury is busy acquiring quality niche content that is well suited to digital delivery in the more reference, scholarly and academic sides of the trade. I think it will prove a winning strategy.

Impressed again,