Pearson Sells Macmillan General Reference for $83m

Pearson plc, the international media company, is to sell Macmillan General Reference USA to IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. for $83m. Pearson has now raised $356m from the planned disposal of a number of its reference, business & professional operations. In 1998 these businesses had combined revenues of $174m.

This completes the planned sale of the businesses that were to have formed part of the proposed disposal to Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, the US private equity firm, which Pearson announced last November would not go ahead. Pearson is retaining Macmillan Computer Publishing USA, the New York Institute of Finance and Prentice Hall Direct, all of which have been integrated into Pearson's education businesses.


Macmillan General Reference USA (MGR) publishes a full range of reference book topics. These include travel guides, language books, dictionaries and test preparation materials. MGR's leading brands include Webster's New World, Frommer's Travel Guides and J.K. Lasser tax guides. Pearson is retaining the Complete Idiot's Guides imprint and range of titles currently published by MGR.

Pearson announced on 25 January that it planned to sell a number of its reference, business & professional operations. On 17 May, Pearson announced the sale of Appleton & Lange to McGraw-Hill, and Master Data Center to Information Holdings, for a total of $79m. This was followed by the sale of Jossey-Bass to John Wiley and Sons, Inc. for $82m and the sale of Bureau of Business Practice to Wolters Kluwer for $16m, these sales were confirmed on 24 May. Pearson continued the disposal of these businesses with the sale of Macmillan Library Reference to Thomson Inc. on June 24 for $96m, including $10m of receivables.

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John Fallon