Who’s Wily at J. Wiley?

The Merger Verger connected recently with a senior contact at J. Wiley & Sons (NYSE: JWA, JWB), a highly-regarded publisher of books and texts, dating from 1807.  The company has recently closed on the $85 million acquisition of Inscape, a producer of digitally delivered training and assessment products to the business market.

The person with whom I spoke was receptive to talking about their integration process but suggested I call back in, say, three months when there would be more to report.  When I pressed the matter, they said that, of course, they had an integration plan “but its execution is what is only beginning.”

You can’t always tell with remarks like; you may just not be talking to the right person.  But the problem of companies seeing a deal closing date as the starting gun for integration is still surprisingly – and frustratingly – common.  In the context of Wiley, it’s even more disturbing.

I went to their online catalog of business books and found titles ranging from Scott Whitaker’s “Mergers & Acquisitions Integration Handbook” to “M&A for Dummies” (yes, really) plus so many other acquisition- and integration-related books that I stopped counting at 20.  That, my friends, is a ton of latent know-how.

Boning up

So, really, “call back in three months?”  I don’t know…  I’m just not thinking that kind of mañana timetable is prescribed in too many of those dozens of Wiley-published M&A books.  Makes the old Verger wonder whether the real integration expertise at Wiley resides with the management team or the editorial staff.

More as it happens … or in three months … whatev.

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