The Holtzbrinck Publishing Group is a family-owned company based in Germany. The group’s portfolio includes Macmillan Publishers, Macmillan Science and Education, and Holtzbrinck Digital (Digital Publishing, Marketplaces and eLearning).

Holtzbrinck is focused on the German, British and US publishing markets, and includes a large number of imprints. In Germany, Holtzbrinck owns S. Fischer, Rowohlt, Kiepenheuer & Witsch and Verlagsgruppe Droemer Knaur. In the UK, the group owns Pan Macmillan, and US holdings include Macmillan, St. Martin’s Press, Henry Holt, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The Education and Science division includes the Nature Publishing Group, Scientific American, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education, Digital Science, Digital Education and Macmillan New Ventures, as well as J.B. Metzler in Germany.

In January 2015, the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and BC Partners agreed to merge the majority of Macmillan Science and Education with Springer Science+Business Media. The merger was completed in May 2015, and the new company will be called Springer Nature.

Analysis & Key Developments


Holtzbrinck had a good year with revenue growth in all areas. While total corporate revenues experienced a slight increase from 1.72 billion EUR to 1.73 billion EUR in 2014, group EBITDA fell from 181 million EUR to 172 million EUR. Publishing turnover includes revenue from Macmillan Publishers and Macmillan Science & Education, each of which have room for improvement. All publishing revenues account for 1.64 billion EUR, against 1.61 billion EUR in the previous year.

Internal organization

Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan and the global businesses of Macmillan Education merged with Springer Science+Business Media to form Springer Nature. The new company is comprised of 13,000 people employees with an estimated turnover of 1.5 billion EUR. Springer Nature is the fourth-largest STM and Education publisher and Holtzbrinck will retain a 53% share. Former Springer CEO Derk Haank will serve as CEO of the new company, and Annette Thomas will transition from CEO of Macmillan Science and Education to chief scientific officer.

In September 2014, the German publishing house Rowohlt announced that longtime publishing manager Alexander Fest would step down. Barbara Laugwitz moved into the role. S. Fischer restructured its executive board in March 2014, and publishing manager Jörg Bong was appointed chairman of the managing board.


Holtzbrinck generated 40% of its revenue in fiscal 2014 in North America, 20% in Germany, 12% in Other Europe, 8% in the UK, and 20% in other regions.


Digital sales represented 27% of Macmillan Publishers’ total revenue in 2013.

Macmillan US reached a new multi-year agency deal on e-books with Amazon in 2014 following deals made by Simon & Schuster and Hachette. Macmillan CEO John Sargent cited Amazon’s share of 64% of the publisher’s US e-book business as a need for more diverse consumer channels, and Macmillan plans to test a subscription model. The deal was signed once Macmillan's agreement with the Department of Justice ended that allowed retailers to discount e-books. As Sargent said, “All our other retailers will also be on the agency model, leaving Apple as the only retailer who is allowed unlimited discounting.”

In July 2014, Holtzbrinck Digital acquired an interest in the start-up e-learning platform Patience, which provides white label solutions for digital education providers. Holtzbrinck had already invested in other e-learning solutions such as Tutoria, a nationwide agency of private tutors, and Bettermarks, an international math-learning platform.

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