Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Acquires Scholastic’s Ed-Tech Business

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Linda Zecher Scholastic ed-techHoughton Mifflin Harcourt announces plans to buy Scholastic’s Education Technology and Services business for $575 million in cash, in a deal set to close in the second quarter of 2015.

Speaking with Digital Book World last December, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt CEO Linda Zecher said, “I believe we need to put our focus on making content smarter. Content can no longer be static; we need to harness technology in order to make it more accessible, interactive and adaptive.”

The Scholastic deal appears intended to help Houghton Mifflin Harcourt meet some of those challenges.

In a press release today, the publisher says integrating Scholastic’s ed-tech business will help “provide added digital infrastructure and expertise to support the continued development of next-generation products for HMH’s pre-K-12 and consumer businesses.”

Scholastic’s Education Technology and Services division saw sales of $249 million in the fiscal year ending May 31, 2014, up 9% over the previous fiscal year. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt counts itself the “industry-leading provider of K-12 content” with “52% market share of the U.S. new adoption market in 2014,” according to a spokesperson for the company.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sees the acquisition as helping it shore up that position while continuing to take advantage of new opportunities for growth. In today’s press release Zecher says that “by diversifying our education portfolio, we will be taking an important step toward optimizing our growth while also enhancing our resiliency throughout economic and market cycles.”

Related: Four Digital Publishing Questions for Linda Zecher

[Press Release]

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to Acquire Scholastic’s Educational Technology and Services Business for $575 Million

Acquisition expected to provide HMH with a leading position in intervention; enhance capabilities in early learning and professional development

Transaction expected to accelerate company growth and create revenue and cost synergies in 2016 and beyond

Board increases total share repurchase authorization to $200 million

Apr 24, 2015 – BOSTON – Global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ: HMHC) (HMH) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Educational Technology and Services (“EdTech”) business of Scholastic Corporation for $575 million in cash, subject to customary working capital adjustments.

The acquisition would provide HMH with a leading position in intervention curriculum and services and extend its product offerings in key growth areas, including educational technology, early learning, and education services, creating a more comprehensive offering for students, teachers and schools. The transaction is expected to be accretive to HMH net income and free cash flow in 2016 and to yield synergies in 2016 and beyond with annual cost savings of $10 to $20 million. The transaction is expected to close in the second calendar quarter of 2015, subject to closing conditions and regulatory approval.

The transaction would provide added digital infrastructure and expertise to support the continued development of next-generation products for HMH’s pre-K-12 and consumer businesses. In addition, HMH believes that combining EdTech’s digital intervention solutions sales expertise with HMH’s already strong sales organization will create new opportunities and accelerate the Company’s growth.

“As HMH drives a learning transformation powered by technology, we believe the EdTech segment of Scholastic will strengthen our offering in both K-12 and other key growth areas, including digital intervention, early learning, consumer and professional development,” commented Linda K. Zecher, HMH’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that by diversifying our education portfolio, we will be taking an important step toward optimizing our growth while also enhancing our resiliency throughout economic and market cycles.”

The EdTech segment of Scholastic provides digital intervention curriculum, products and services to schools and districts throughout the United States as well as related implementation and assessment services and school consulting services. The business consists of proven-effective intervention solutions, including READ 180®, the largest individual digital curriculum program in the marketplace, and MATH 180®, which is fast becoming a market leader since its introduction in 2014. HMH expects this transaction would enable the company to more comprehensively address upcoming K-12 adoptions and the needs of students in those markets who would benefit from an intervention solution.

The management team of the EdTech business, including its President Margery Mayer, is expected to remain with the business as part of HMH. The business’ approximate 800 employees are also expected to join HMH upon transaction close.

Financial Overview:

The acquisition is aligned with the Company’s capital allocation framework and is expected to enhance HMH’s financial profile.

Eric Shuman, HMH’s Chief Financial Officer, said, “The highly-compelling strategic rationale coupled with opportunities for collaboration and coordination on the sales front makes this an attractive acquisition. In line with our capital allocation framework, we view this transaction as a prudent use of our strong cash position and balance sheet and believe that it will help enhance stockholder value over the long term.”

For the fiscal year ended May 31, 2014, the EdTech segment of Scholastic delivered net sales of $249 million, up $21 million or 9% compared to fiscal 2013. In the same period, operating income grew $10 million or 34% from the prior year period to $40 million. Adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow for the EdTech segment were $68 million and $37 million respectively for the same period, up $16 million and $25 million respectively, from the same prior period.

In connection with this transaction, HMH expects to replace its existing $180 million term loan with a new $500 million committed term loan with a six year maturity.

Capital Allocation and Share Repurchase Program:

In addition, consistent with the Company’s goal to create long-term stockholder value, HMH”s Board of Directors has authorized an additional $100 million under the Company’s existing share repurchase program, bringing the total authorization to $200 million. This aligns with HMH’s broader capital allocation strategy, which focuses on driving organic growth, pursuing strategic acquisition opportunities and returning capital to stockholders, when appropriate.

The share repurchase program may be executed over a period of two years from the program’s original authorization. Repurchases under the program may be made from time to time in open market or privately negotiated transactions. The extent and timing of any such repurchases would be at the Company’s discretion, unless made through pre-arranged trading plans, and subject to market conditions, applicable legal requirements and other considerations.

The Board will continue to actively consider ways to pursue opportunities that are consistent with the Company’s capital allocation strategy that the Board deems prudent and appropriate under the circumstances.

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ:HMHC) is a global learning company dedicated to changing people’s lives by fostering passionate, curious learners. As a leading provider of pre-K–12 education content, services, and cutting-edge technology solutions across a variety of media, HMH enables learning in a changing landscape. HMH is uniquely positioned to create engaging and effective educational content and experiences from early childhood to beyond the classroom. HMH serves more than 50 million students in over 150 countries worldwide, while its award-winning children’s books, novels, non-fiction, and reference titles are enjoyed by readers throughout the world. For more information, visit www.hmhco.com.


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One thought on “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Acquires Scholastic’s Ed-Tech Business

  1. Cristobal Viedma

    Recent deals such as LinkedIn’s move to acquire online tutorial company Lynda.com and this Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announcement demonstrate corporate giants see value in Ed Tech and that they—and the market—very much need startups. As HMH is to a big ocean liner (which is becoming even bigger with the Scholastic business)—we are to a speed boat. They need startups as the testing grounds for really good ideas and new markets. And startups need them for their experience, branding and industry strength.

    Despite the ed tech acquisitions, we still see the big guys ignoring two to six year old population—the ages when children’s brains are developing and learning the most. It’s given many startups, including us at Monkimun, the opportunity to dive into the hole of this market and provide learning tools for these parents and children.



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