European private equity firms Cinven and Candover today announce that they have signed an agreement to sell Springer, one of the world’s leading academic publishers – in which they are equal shareholders – to a consortium comprising EQT and GIC.  The transaction remains subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close by late January/early February 2010.

Springer was created as part of a buy-and-build strategy that sought to consolidate and leverage the emerging on-line opportunities in the academic publishing market.  This was achieved through the €600 million acquisition of Kluwer Academic Publishers from Wolters Kluwer in January 2003, and the €1,050 million acquisition of BertelsmannSpringer from Bertelsmann in September 2003.  The merger created the clear number two in the global scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishing market and Springer is also the leading German professional publisher in such areas as medicine and transport.

Upon the merger of the two companies, Springer attracted the leading management team in the industry – led by Derk Haank, CEO.  He and his team have focused on driving the performance of the business through significant investment in a number of key initiatives, such as digitising the journal archive and developing a successful e-books business.

The results of these initiatives have been clear: proforma EBITDA has increased significantly since the merger, from €147m to over €280m enabling Cinven and Candover to make significant returns for their investors.  The expected IRR to Cinven funds on completion will be approximately 29%.

Cinven partner Brian Linden said: “Our growth strategy for Springer has delivered genuine value.  We’ve supported Derk and his team to create a market leading academic publisher that will continue to benefit from being at the forefront of electronic publishing.”

The Board of Springer was advised by Goldman Sachs, UBS and Freshfields.