Christian Retailing

Thomas Nelson buyout ‘a vote of confidence for the industry’ Print Email
Written by Staff   
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 10:50 AM America/New_York

Thomas Nelson and Zondervan will continue as separate entities under the acquisition that will make HarperCollins Publishers the biggest single stakeholder in Christian publishing.

The industry has been abuzz since yesterday’s announcement by HarperCollins, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., that a deal to buy Thomas Nelson is set to be finalized by the end of the year.

No details of future plans were included in the statement, but HarperCollins Vice President, Corporate Communications Erin Crum told Christian Retailing: “HarperCollins will continue to publish both Thomas Nelson and Zondervan books, Bibles and products. The two companies have distinct and complementary missions, and we intend to keep those missions intact.”

Both Thomas Nelson and Zondervan will keep a presence in their respective locations—Nashville and Grand Rapids, Mich.—she said.

At Thomas Nelson, President and CEO Mark Schoenwald said that it was “business as usual” after the deal was announced to staff Monday afternoon. There was some surprise at the announcement, he said, but recognition that becoming part of HarperCollins provided a chance to “capitalize on the opportunities in this rapidly changing world of publishing.”

Though buyouts often occur when businesses are in trouble, Nelson saw growth in the financial year that closed in April and was enjoying another strong year with the success of Heaven is for Real, Schoenwald said. The purchase was exciting “in that it shows a big New York publisher is willing to invest in the Christian market. ... That’s a vote of confidence not just for Thomas Nelson, really, but the industry.”

Schoenwald said that by giving the company access to HarperCollins’ resources and capabilities, the deal would help make Nelson more efficient and better able to deliver content in any form consumers wanted. “The readers will win here,” he said.

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, subject to regulatory clearances and “other customary closing conditions,” the announcement said.