BC Partners to buy academic publishing firm

BUYOUT firm BC Partners yesterday agreed to buy German publisher Springer Science+Business Media for about €3.3bn (£2.82bn), the largest private-equity acquisition in Germany for seven years.

Owners EQT and Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) had been pursuing both a direct sale and a flotation, which appears to have paid off by pushing up the offer price.

Springer, which competes with Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier and Dutch company Wolters Kluwer, publishes 2,200 English-language journals and more than 8,000 new book titles every year.

“BC Partners plans to support the continued growth of Springer globally by further expanding its core subscription business as well as focusing on traditionally high-growth areas such as open access publishing and emerging markets,” the buyout firm said.

Sources said the sellers would keep a stake of about 10 per cent in Springer between them. BC Partners confirmed the current owners would retain a minority shareholding.

BC Partners said some of the €3.3bn deal value, which includes debt, depends on the publisher’s future performance. That amount is €200m-€300m according to two people familiar with the deal.

Swedish private equity firm EQT said in a statement that the transaction was expected to close in August.

The deal is the largest takeover of a German company by a private equity group since the €4bn acquisition of forklift truck maker Kion by KKR and Goldman Sachs in 2006.

BC Partners said it was advised by Credit Suisse, Nomura and Jefferies.

The purchase will be backed with around €2.5bn of debt provided by Barclays, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Nomura and UBS, banking sources said.

In December 2009, EQT and GIC bought 82 per cent and 18 per cent of the company, respectively, from Candover and Cinven.