London-based private equity firm BC Partners has agreed to buy German academic publisher Springer Science and Business Media from EQT and Government of Singapore Investment Corp. (GIC).

Springer Science
Springer Science office at Berlin. Photo: Springer

Priced at about €3.3bn ($4.4 bn/£2.8bn), this is the largest private-equity deal in Germany for seven years where the initial public offering by companies has been cancelled. It is also the second-largest German deal and the sixth biggest private equity transaction across the globe in 2013, according to Bloomberg.

Springer, a scientific, technological and medical publisher with more than 7,000 employees across the globe, publishes about 2,200 English-language journals annually and produced nearly 8,000 new book titles in 2012. It logged sales of €981m in 2012.

The publishing group was formed in 2003 by British private-equity investors Candover and Cinven by merging Dutch group Kluwer Academic Publishers with German firm BertelsmannSpringer. EQT and GIC purchased 82% and 18% of the company, respectively, from Candover and Cinven in December 2009.

"The company has been one of the most innovative in its field in terms of developing new ways to distribute and access high quality publications," said Ewald Walgenbach, managing partner at BC Partners.

"Its international footprint offers attractive opportunities and it is positioned to benefit from the growth of the knowledge economy worldwide."

BC Partners said it would support Springer's global growth by expanding the publisher's core subscription business and by focusing on open access publishing and emerging markets. Springer targets to become the prime publishing house for researchers in all disciplines.

EQT Partners and GICIC will remain as minority shareholders in Springer.

"We share a vision with BC Partners for the future of Springer and believe the new investment will add significant value to our business and its continued growth prospects," said Springer CEO Derk Haank.

BC Partners was advised by Jefferies Group, Credit Suisse and Nomura in the deal.