Pearson the British publisher of the Financial Times, announced that they will be selling their Mergermarket unit which publishes the Mergermarket deal monitoring and deal data product and Debtwire which covers the global distressed debt market.According to a story in the New York Times, Pearson bought Mergermarket for $192 Million in 2006. The Times story also reported that Mergermarket’s sales were $334 million in the first half of 2013.

Mergermarket has gained traction in US law firms due to its “boots on the ground” approach to monitoring deal activities and rumors in 67 locations around the world. Reporters  provide a steady stream of custom deal news as well as an excellent deal database which is used for Competitive Intelligence analysis and by lawyers for determining “What’s Market.”  Since M&A activity has been uneven over the past few years, it is impressive that Mergermarkets revenue has grown in this tough environment.

Over the past year there have been rumors that Pearson was in talks with Bloomberg regarding the sale of the Financial Times. Pearson’s announcement indicated that it did not intend to sell the Financial Times because it was viewed as important to their educational market strategy and apparently Mergermarket is not. But there is probably a legal publisher with a strategy which would benefit from a product like Mergermarket.

Where is the Most Strategic Synergy in Legal Publishing for Mergermarket?

Bloomberg Law doesn’t need it. They have much of  the same data although they present it differently. I would only see  Bloomberg buying Mergermarket so someone else can’t benefit from owning it.
Thomson Reuters  Like Bloomberg. TR doesn’t really doesn’t need  Mergermarket since they have the Thomson Reuters financial platform which is chocked full of deal data. TR is already working  on integrating  Thomson Reuters financial data  into their legal products. Mergermarket also has some overlap with the “what’s market” market capabilities of  the newly acquired Practical Law Company platform which was purchased earlier this year.

LexisNexis has been in the habit of purchasing (Law 360 and Knowledge Mosaic) or aligning (American Lawyer Media) with specialty publishers which cater to the legal market. Knowledge Mosaic has a different emphasis than Mergermarket but covers some of the same deal data, so the acquisition of Mergermarket does not seem like a likely move for LexisNexis to me.

Wolters Kluwer Law and Business – Now this one is intriguing. Wolters Kluwer has recenly expanded and accelerated  their suite of “push” offerings with their of daily legal newsletters. These newsletters focus on legal issues. Lawyers welcome products that can weave legal and business issues together in a way that enhances their competitiveness and efficiency. Wolters Kluwer already has a strong core of corporate, antitrust  and securities legal content on their Intelliconnect and RBSource platforms. It’s not hard to imagine some sparks flying if they married the stream of Mergermarket rumors and deals data to their core corporate legal content.
The Risk of Acquisition
Law librarians and legal information professionals know all too well that all product acquisitions do not end happily for customers or products. The litany of lost products is too long to recite, but as alawys we will watch carefully to see if Mergermarket can survive and thrive its own merger.
Also of Note — A Recent Bloomberg – Above the Law Connection
Bloomberg Media recently recruited Justin B Smith who engineered a digital transformation of The Atlantic magazine. At the end of the story in the New York Times, it noted that Smith founded Breaking Media which owns a number of websites, most notably the Above the Law blog. I contacted David Lat the Managing Editor of ATL and he indicated that Smith’s move to Bloomberg  will have no impact on ATL. Fair enough, Smith  has moved to Bloomberg Media and not to  Bloomberg Law, but something could happen over a water cooler! Bloomberg Law is always on the prowl for good content and new media is hot.  BLaw did establish an alliance with  another leading legal blog ScotusBlog which covers the US Supreme Court. Just gotta keep wondering what’s up next!