Monday, March 17, 2008

BPN 1040 Sdu to sell off its educational activities

Another Dutch publisher is getting rid of its educational division. After VNU, Wolters Kluwer and Reed Elsevier sold their educational divisions, Sdu Publishers has indicated that their educational activity is up for sale. Sdu considers these activities no longer as core activities. In 2007 Sdu made a turn over of 5 million euro with these activities.

The educational title list consists of school books for secondary and higher vocational education in the field of ICT and technology; Sdu is market leader in those sections. However Sdu does no longer see those publications as core activity. Financially the activities are small in comparison to the company’s turn-over of 200 million euro in 2007. In terms of focus, the publishing house, the former government’s print office, profiles itself as a home for information professionals, especially in government. With the announcement of the sale, Sdu announced the acquisition of, an online job database operator for government, semi-government, provinces and municipalities.

Sdu is the latest Dutch publishing house selling its educational activities as non-core activities. VNU sold its educational division Malmberg to a private equity fund, which found a home for the company with the Finnish publisher Sanoma. Wolters Kluwer sold its educational division to Bridgepoint Ltd. Also Reed Elsevier sold off its educational division. These publishing companies have all chosen to be active in a specific field of professional information (VNU, now Nielsen in market data, Wolters Kluwer in legal and health, while Reed Elsevier is active in scientific information). Sdu has now chosen to disband the educational activities and focus on governmental information. Given its present composition of core activities it will mean that the section Business Information with a strong component of ICT will be the next section to be sold off. After the sale of Sdu’s educational activities, only the newspaper conglomerates PCM and NDC/VBK have educational divisions in their publishing mix. So far these conglomerates have not chosen for a specific focus and still have newspapers, books, including educational books and methods, magazines and capital intensive print plants.

In time and space, Sdu is late in abandoning the educational activities in order to grow to a more focussed publishing house. For PCM and NDC.VBK it will also be a question of time given the market size and politics in the Dutch educational market. There are roughly 22 million people who speak, read and write Dutch, mainly in The Netherlands and Belgium. Also politics is now meddling in publishing as the present government team intends to fund books for secondary school from September onwards; book packages will now have to be tendered according to European rules. This will make the marketing and selling of school books unnecessarily complicated; besides it will be difficult for small educational publishers to conquer a market share. It will also complicate the change-over from books to e-learning.

Blog Posting Number: 1040

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