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Reed Elsevier puts Harcourt Education unit up for sale

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London—Publisher Reed Elsevier on Thursday put its Harcourt Education unit on the block.

“The planned sale of our Harcourt Education division sharpens our strategic focus and concentrates our resources on the digital opportunities across an increasingly synergistic portfolio,” said Crispin Davis, CEO of Reed Elsevier, in a news release.

Harcourt was the only one of Reed Elsevier’s four main divisions that did not register revenue growth in 2006. The other units are Reed’s scientific journals; the LexisNexis search service; and the trade journal and exhibition operations. Adjusted operating profit for Harcourt, which produces textbooks, dropped 20% last year to $252 million, with revenue down 1% to $1.7 billion.

Analysts at U.K. brokerage firm Numis Securities pegged the unit’s potential sale price as between $3.14 billion and $3.92 billion.

Reed Elsevier’s 2006 profit was up 35% to $1.22 billion from roughly $909 million in 2005. Revenue was up 4% to $10 billion.

—Matthew Schwartz
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