Reed Elsevier to acquire ChoicePoint for $4.1B, sell magazine arm

In a refocusing of its business, Reed Elsevier has agreed to purchase ChoicePoint and is planning to divest its business-sector magazine holdings.

The announcements were bundled with the release of Reed Elsevier’s preliminary financial results statement for 2007. In the release, the company stood by its $8.9 billion performance — a 2% increase in yearly revenue over 2006 — but declared that it would nevertheless overhaul its portfolio.

Reed Business Information, which publishes 80 magazines including Variety, Relish and Casual Living, is to be sold — though the company has not yet pinpointed any potential buyers.

“What we are doing is divesting RBI, which is cyclical and advertising-dependant and not as online- and workflow solutions-focused as other parts of the company like LexisNexis,” said Patrick Kerr, director of corporate communications for Reed Elsevier. “We are trying to create greater growth, and we believe we can do that better by being in online workflow solution sectors.” 

With Harcourt Education recently sold as well, Reed will focus on risk management and online workflow businesses. To build its portfolio to that end, Reed has agreed to purchase ChoicePoint, an insurance industry risk management firm. The all-cash transaction is estimated to be worth $4.1 billion and should close by this summer. Reed Elsevier will assume $600 million in debt.

“ChoicePoint is workflow through-and-through and 100% online, and we believe that it’s absolutely the right fit for us,” Kerr added.

ChoicePoint, which sold its bankruptcy, liens and judgment data business to Reed in 2006, refused to comment on the acquisition. A company statement proclaimed, “We believe the transaction creates five key benefits: powerful products, global growth opportunities, a dynamic workplace for employees, continued social responsibility leadership, and accelerated growth and financial performance.”

ChoicePoint will maintain its headquarters in Alpharetta, GA, and Reed Elsevier will move its risk and information analytics business to that site. No employment decisions have been announced.

The portfolio shake-up is expected to help Reed consolidate and streamline its technology and operations. Company execs also hope to leverage LexisNexis technology in combination with ChoicePoint’s data and analytics to provide better information and analytics to clients.

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