Pa. medical publisher to be bought by Waverly

October 31, 1990|By Timothy J. Mullaney

Waverly Inc. expanded its push into European medical publishing yesterday when it announced that it will buy a Pennsylvania business -- the oldest medical publisher in the United States -- with significant sales abroad.

Baltimore-based Waverly said that about a fourth of Lea & Febiger's $11 million in annual sales are made overseas and that the smaller company's foreign sales have been growing strongly in recent years.

Waverly will acquire Lea & Febiger, a limited partnership based in suburban Philadelphia whose titles include Gray's Anatomy, for a combination of cash and Waverly stock, said William M. Passano, Jr., president of Waverly. Mr. Passano wouldn't disclose the value of the deal.

"It's important to us because it puts us in a very strong international position in medical publishing," he said. "We'll be No. 1 in medical journals, No. 2 in medical books and No. 1 in medical electronic publishing."

Mr. Passano said that until now, Waverly's overseas operations have been so small that it needed to enter into joint ventures or use outside agents to market its books economically overseas.

"This gives enough volume to control our own destiny," he said. "It allows us to be independent internationally in our sales and marketing."

Combined with Waverly's acquisition earlier this year of a German-based Urban & Schwarzenberg, another medical publishing business, the Lea & Febiger deal positions Waverly to capitalize on the opening -- and any economic growth -- in Eastern Europe, Mr. Cassano said.

"They don't have any money, but they're going to have money," he said. "The Germans are going to make it work" by investing heavily in Eastern European businesses.

The Lea & Febiger deal is Waverly's third 1990 acquisition. Earlier this year, Waverly bought Harwal Publishing of Media, Pa., which puts out the National Medical Series of review books. Mr. Passano said Waverly's annual sales should increase by about 35 percent, to about $135 million, as a result of the deals.

Mr. Passano said Lea & Febiger was open to a merger because it was too small to compete internationally. The two companies will combine some marketing and administrative operations, but Lea & Febiger's current management will continue to run the newest division of Waverly more or less independently, Mr. Passano said.

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