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Sage expands reach with CQ merger

By   /   Saturday, October 18th, 2008  /   Comments Off on Sage expands reach with CQ merger

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Following one of the company’s largest acquisitions, Thousand Oaks-based Sage Publications is expanding its national presence in the academic scene. On May 30, the company announced it was buying CQ Press, the book-publishing unit of Washington-based Congressional Quarterly.

More than four months later, executives are still working out the details of how the two companies, which publish academic journals and textbooks, will complement each other’s offerings.

“Sage has always been a strong publisher across the social sciences, but one of our areas where our list is smaller is in political sciences,” said Executive Vice President Alison Mudditt. “Their product range is similar to what Sage does as well.”

CQ Press President and Publisher John A. Jenkins said Sage was the best of about a dozen bidders it saw after CQ Press’ former owner, Times Publishing Co., put it on the auction block in January to raise capital. The money from the sale was mainly slated for the St. Petersburg Times, which Times Publishing Co. owns, according to a press release.

“So what was very, very gratifying was that we had this confluence of events where we had the best bidder and they made the best final offer and we had an outcome that meant that CQ Press would be around for several generations to come,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins and Mudditt would not disclose the acquisition’s price tag but Mudditt said it’s one of the largest acquisitions Sage has ever gone through in its 43-year history.

Jenkins said that when CQ Press went up for sale, plans of expanding its product line into journalism and history products were put on hold. But because of the success of the acquisition – in which not a single employee was let go – Jenkins said expansion plans are back on the table.

Although all details have yet to be worked out on the executive level, Mudditt said Sage plans to swoop CQ Press’ products under its wing and sell them internationally alongside Sage’s.

“One of the other opportunities there was to [acquiring] CQ Press was an opportunity to really sort of globalize their sales and products. They’ve been focused very much on the U.S. market,” Mudditt said. “We have offices in the U.K., in Singapore and then in New Delhi so one of the big opportunities we see is really sort of bringing CQ Press into that network globally.”

The Thousand Oaks-based company has mainly just acquired journal titles over the years and has never had such a large influx of personnel from a buyout – 120 people in CQ Press’ case. The acquisition bumped Sage’s international head count from a little less than 400 to more than 500.

Ever since Sage was founded by its current executive chairman Sara Miller McCune, who was its president for 18 years, the company has become one of the nation’s top academic publishers. Last year, the company had about $200 million in revenue and Mudditt said she expects that figure to jump significantly by the end of 2008. Next year, she said, may not be any different despite the economy.

“Obviously, I think like any company, we’re approaching 2009 prudently,” she said. “We’re in a very strong financial position and our main revenues come through the higher-education market so what you tend to see during a recession is that student enrollment tends to stay strong … people tend to go back to college.”

On the other hand, Mudditt said, Sage pulls in a good portion of its revenue through the library markets, which tend to see their budgets cut in bad economic times.
Sage publishes more than 500 journals and 700 books a year encompassing 40 disciplines within the academic and scholarly arena. CQ Press publishes about 100 new titles a year, mainly within the library, college and professional markets.

Piggybacking on its association with Congressional Quarterly Inc., CQ Press has specialized in textbooks and reference titles focusing on political science, mass communication and related disciplines.

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