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Elsevier on fast track

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Elsevier is on an acquisitive tear. The publisher of science and health care information recently acquired Windhover Information, which covers the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Windhover will operate within Elsevier's Pharma Business Intelligence unit. That division also includes F-D-C Report, which tracks new drug approvals and provides specialized coverage of the medical device, diagnostic and instrumentation industries, and Inteleos, a drug development database. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. “We needed to broaden the content and go beyond the F-D-C,” said Brian Nairn, CEO of Elsevier Health Sciences, a subsidiary of Anglo-Dutch publishing giant Reed Elsevier. Elsevier publishes more than 700 medical journals; its major properties include The Lancet and Web sites Embase.com and Science Direct. “We're acquiring content that expands our usefulness [online] and gets us closer to pharmaceutical marketing,” Nairn said. Morris Levitt, managing director, life sciences, of media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, said Elsevier's acquisition strategy is “two sides of the coin” as it pertains to Reed Elsevier's recent decision to put its print-heavy Reed Business Information portfolio on the block. “Clearly, Reed doesn't see a great future for RBI,” he said. “At the same time, they see value in health care information services and are being aggressive in investing in that area.” Elsevier's acquisition of Windhover comes on the heels of several similar deals designed to strengthen the publisher's position in clinical reference and clinical decision support tools, two areas critical to the delivery of health care. In January Elsevier acquired MEDai Inc., a predictive analysis company that examines health care claims, and in December it bought CPM Resource Center, which provides nursing care plans. Financial terms of those deals were similarly not disclosed. Nairn said a key element of Elsevier's strategy is to build interactive tools that complement the properties it acquires. “We're big believers in the idea of combining acquisitions and organic development,” he said. For example, in 2006 Elsevier acquired Health Education Systems, a review and testing company for nursing students. Elsevier added to it an interactive tool called Evolve-Reach, which identifies content areas in which nursing students may be weak. Elsevier will continue to be on the lookout for U.S. companies “in which we can accelerate innovation,” Nairn said. The legal sector is also seeing growing demand for work-flow services. An example of this trend is Counsel Press, a company acquired in 2005 by Dolan Media Co. that helps law firms pursue appeals from lower courts. “This is how we inoculate ourselves against economic cycles, because most of the service we can provide is noncyclical,” said Jim Dolan, chairman-president-CEO of Dolan Media, which covers the legal, financial and real estate sectors. “B-to-b media companies have to think about what they can do for their clients and customers in ways that broaden the financial relationship and are a logical extension of the business they know.”
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