Education and learning specialist publisher John Wiley & Sons has announced the acquisition of CrossKnowledge, “a learning solutions provider focused on leadership and managerial skills development, for $175 million in cash.”As well as ramping up the publishing consolidation and M&A trend another notch, this development also marks another step in convergence between specialist publishing companies and other non-publishing content businesses in related sectors.


“In today’s knowledge-based economy, organizations of all different shapes and sizes are looking to address skill, productivity and performance gaps through investment in their current workforce rather than hiring additional resources,” said Steve Smith, President and CEO of Wiley. “At the same time, they are moving from face-to-face training to e-learning solutions that offer individualized assessment and prescriptive learning. Wiley and CrossKnowledge are at the forefront of this trend.”

Although based in France, CrossKnowledge appears anything but parochial, offering “subscription-based, digital learning solutions for multi-national corporations, universities, and small and medium-sized enterprises. CrossKnowledge solutions, which include managerial and leadership skills assessment, courses, certifications, content, and executive training programs, are delivered on a cloud-based platform providing over 17,000 learning objects in 17 languages.”

The deal also pushes up the size of publishing M&A transactions. Hodder & Stoughton’s recent acquisition of Quercus, for instance, was priced at around £12.6 million ($20.8 million). And even bearing in mind that Quercus was a traditional independent smaller publisher, the Wiley/CrossKnowledge deal still comes out at roughly nine times that value. M&A bankers will surely be eyeing the publishing market even more eagerly now.


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