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Reed Elsevier / Wolters Kluwer merger off

It made a refreshing change to read some good news in the morning
newspapers, viz. that the the Reed Elsevier / Wolters Kluwer proposed
merger has been abandoned because of fear of conditions which might be
imposed by the European Commission. Of course the statement issued by the
Reed Elsevier Board was financial in nature: "significant changes to the
merger terms that Wolters Kluwer felt necessary to protect the interests
of its shareholders would make the merger unattractive from the standpoint
of the Reed International and Elsevier shareholders" (what about the
interests of the producers and users of the information they publish?) But
for once market forces seem to have acted in the interests of academia. 

I do not know where that leaves some of the other mergers that have been
happening, at least one of them through Kluwer. And one significant
warning for those of us in Europe comes in the last sentence of today's
report in "The Times": "In Brussels, a source close to the talks said that
competition problems posed by the deal could have been solved, adding that
the cancellation had surprised the Commission". For some time we have
found that the Commission tends to support the viewpoint of large
publishers, and it looks as though they would have been prepared to let
the Elsevier/Kluwer merger go through. Not a good omen for future battles
we may have to fight. 

Fred Friend    
Frederick J.Friend, 
Director Scholarly Communication,
c/o Graduate School,
North Cloisters,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT,
Telephone +44 171 380 7090
Mobile phone   0385 921 774    
Fax           +44 171 380 7043
E-mail   or
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