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Elsevier pushes subscription-based services

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Medical and scientific publisher Elsevier was a particularly active player on the media M&A front in August and September. The Amsterdam-based media company, a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier, announced two divestitures and a pair of acquisitions: In August, Elsevier acquired Atira, a research management software company. Atira complements Elsevier's SciVal, a research and information website. Last month, Elsevier bought ExitCare, which provides patient education and discharge instruction to clinicians for delivery to patients. Also in September, Elsevier sold the International Medical News Group (IMNG) to healthcare media company Quadrant HealthCom, owned by M.E. Zukerman & Co. And in the most recently announced divestiture, it sold the Elsevier Public Safety Group (EPS), which includes FireRescue and Law Officer, to PennWell Corp. Financial terms of the four deals were not disclosed. The divestitures reflect Elsevier's efforts to reduce its stake in traditional trade publications and sharpen its focus on peer-reviewed science journals, according to Christopher Capot, director-corporate relations at Elsevier. “The advertising and pharma promotional-dependent revenue model of IMNG and EPS, which are really trade publications, did not fit with our long-term health science business strategy,” Capot said, noting Elsevier produces more than 400 peer-reviewed publications. “We will continue to focus on advertising and pharma promotion in peer-reviewed journals.” ExitCare, which serves more than 2,000 healthcare organizations throughout the U.S., will be folded into Elsevier's portfolio of clinical decision support (CDS) content and tools. “A gap for us had been in that patient-education space, which is a very critical part of patient flow through a hospital, for example,” said Sonika Mathur, VP-strategy and business development for the CDS group. “The rationale behind the acquisition is that it really helps us provide a more comprehensive suite of solutions that can satisfy almost the entire work flow for a clinician.” Mike Parker, managing director of media investment bank AdMedia Partners, said Elsevier's various deals were in keeping with the company's strategy to shed media products with exposure to print-advertising cycles and build out its subscription business. Former Reed Elsevier CEO Sir Crispin Davis “said a few years ago that he wanted to get into database management and more digital [media], and that's what the company is doing,” Parker said. “It appears to be working, in terms of divesting ad-driven products and putting money into more reliable revenue streams.”
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