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Relx buys Bepress to boost academic publishing

Relx buys Bepress to boost academic publishing

UK information group acquires another San Francisco Bay area company

Relx, the UK-listed information and analytics group, is buying California-based academic publisher Bepress — its third acquisition in the San Francisco Bay area in the past 18 months.

Although Relx did not disclose the amount its science and health business Elsevier had paid for the company, which was founded in 1999 by three academics at the University of California, Berkeley, one person briefed on the deal valued the transaction at £100m.

The move is part of Relx’s long-term shift from traditional business media publishing into data and technology businesses that generate lucrative subscriber revenues.

Over the past 10 years, the group — formerly known as Reed Elsevier — has sold off the majority of its business and trade magazines, reducing its reliance on volatile print revenues, which have fallen from 50 per cent of the business to 10 per cent during that period.

In April, it sold one of its best known titles, New Scientist, to Kingston Acquisitions, an investment vehicle led by Sir Bernard Gray, a businessman who previously led a buyout of the Times Educational Supplement from News Corp.

Despite generating revenues of £3.7bn in the first half of this year and operating profits of £1.1bn, Relx only spends about £300m a year on acquisitions, targeting about 25 deals.

The company said the deals “tend to be small and focused on acquiring technology, data sets or geographical expansion”.

Bepress, founded as the Berkeley Electronic Press, provides North American university libraries with technology that allows them to showcase research by academics. It employs 90 staff and has about 1m registered users, who have access to about 2m articles.

“Academic institutions want to help researchers share their work, showcase their capabilities and measure how well they are performing,” said Bepress chief executive Jean-Gabriel Bankier. “Now with Elsevier, we’ll be stronger and better.”

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