The Holtzbrinck Publishing Group is a family-owned company based in Germany. The group’s portfolio includes Macmillan Publishers (trade publishing), Macmillan Learning (US higher education), Holtzbrinck Digital, Information and Services; and the joint venture Springer Nature, which is active in research, educational and professional publishing.

In January 2015, the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and BC Partners agreed to merge the majority of Macmillan Science and Education, Holtzbrinck’s former Science and Education division, with the entirety of Springer Science + Business Media. The merger was completed in May 2015, and the new company, of which Holtzbrinck holds a 53% majority, is called Springer Nature. Springer Nature is now one of the world’s leading global research, educational and professional publishers.

Holtzbrinck’s trade publishing activities focus on the German, UK and US markets. In Germany, Holtzbrinck owns the imprints S. Fischer, Rowohlt, Kiepenheuer & Witsch and Verlagsgruppe Droemer Knaur. The group owns Pan Macmillan in the UK and Macmillan, St. Martin’s Press, Henry Holt, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the US.

The Higher Education division includes the imprints Bedford/St. Martin’s, Hayden-McNeil, W.H. Freeman and Worth Publishers, as well as digital and adaptive learning offerings such as LaunchPad and Sapling Learning.

Analysis & Key Developments


Figures for 2015 are preliminary and exclude Springer Nature. The numbers are not comparable to previous years due to changes in the company’s portfolio.

Holtzbrinck had a strong year in 2014 with revenue growth in all areas surveyed. 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 included Macmillan Publishers and Macmillan Science & Education, with total publishing revenues at 1.64 billion EUR, up from 1.61 billion EUR in 2013.

Internal Organization


In January 2015, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and BC Partners agreed to merge Springer Science + Business Media in its entirety with the majority of Macmillan Science and Education, including Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan and the global businesses of Macmillan Education. The new company is called Springer Nature and employs 13,000 people with turnover estimated at 1.5 billion EUR.

The new group is under joint control of Holtzbrinck and BCP with Holtzbrinck retaining a majority share of 53%. The management board is composed of Derk Haank (Chief Executive Officer), Steven Inchcoombe (Chief Publishing Officer), Rachel Jacobs (Group General Counsel), Martin Mos (Chief Operating Officer) and Ulrich Vest (Chief Financial Officer).

In November 2015, Macmillan Publishers named Don Weisberg president of Macmillan Publishers US. Weisberg reports to Macmillan CEO John Sargent.

Jörg Pfuhl was appointed CEO of Holtzbrinck’s German Trade Publishing imprints Rowohlt, Fischer, Droemer Knaur, Kiepenheur & Witsch, along with the audiobooks publisher Argon, and publishing services company HGV. Pfuhl will begin on September 1, 2016.

Macmillan Learning announced the acquisition of Roberts and Company in January 2016. The company publishes higher education textbooks, interactive media, and original titles in biology, chemistry, engineering and other related subjects.

In April 2016, Macmillan Learning acquired WriterKEY.

In May 2016, Macmillan US acquired Pronoun, a self-publishing and analytics platform.


By territory, Holtzbrinck (without SpingerNature) generated 52% of revenue in North America, 20% in Germany, 8% in Other Europe, 8% in the UK, and 12% in other regions in fiscal 2015.


E-book Pricing

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


In July 2014, Holtzbrinck Digital acquired an interest in the start-up e-learning platform Patience that provides white label solutions for digital education providers. The acquisition added to the group’s previous investment in e-learning solutions, which began with the nationwide Tutoria agency of private tutors and Bettermarks, an international Math learning platform.

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