It was a day of deals in the library market, including the news that 3M, a major vendor in the library space, is exiting the business.
In a surprise announcement, 3M revealed that it has sold its North American and global libraries businesses (including 3M Cloud Library, 3M’s e-book lending service) to Bibliotheca, an upstart company that is backed One Equity Partners, a division of JP Morgan Chase.
The deal includes 3M’s security, productivity, and cloud (e-books) businesses. In a release, Bibliotheca officials say that going forward, the company will transition 3M services into “a single Bibliotheca brand.”
According to an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 3M's library business brought in about $100 million annually, but 3M v-p John Riccardi told the paper that the company decided to divest it "after a thorough strategic review” to focus on “core businesses," including “reflective traffic safety," "vehicle identification solutions," and "public security identification and monitoring."
Dr. Simon Plankenhorn, managing director of Bibliotheca Group, says the company will be investing significantly in growing the library business. “Ever since the incorporation of the Bibliotheca Group in 2011 we have been focused on assembling the greatest team of people and the most innovative product set within the library industry,” he said.
That team will also reportedly include Matt Tempelis, 3M Library Systems business leader, as well as the team behind 3M’s e-book lending system, which launched in 2011 as a rival to industry leader OverDrive. In a statement, Tempelis said the new combined company “has the scale needed to accelerate our product development pipeline.”
Notably, OverDrive was also acquired earlier this year, by the Japanese conglomerate Rakuten.
In a second big deal for the library sector announced today, ProQuest said that it has signed an agreement to acquire Ex Libris Group, a leading global provider of library automation solutions. ProQuest officials say the move will help ProQuest “accelerate innovation of new services to quickly address some of libraries' most pressing challenges: disparate workflows for print, electronic and digital resources, and navigation of complex and rapidly changing technology, content and user environments.”
The acquisition is expected to close in the coming months. After the sale is completed, ProQuest and Ex Libris will form a new business unit called Ex Libris, a ProQuest Company, which will be led by Ex-Libris CEO Matti Shem-Tov, and “supported by the Ex Libris management team along with ProQuest Workflow Solutions management.” While financial details were not disclosed, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that ProQuest paid a sale price of $500 million.
The acquisition follows on the heels of ProQuest’s recent acqusition of Coutts Information Services from the Ingram Content Group this spring.