Publisher Springer Nature revives IPO plans, new bank consortium: sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Springer Nature, the publisher of science magazines Nature and Scientific American, is reviving plans for a stock market listing, two years after a first attempt fell through, people close to the matter said.

Its owners, buyout group BC Partners and publisher Holtzbrinck, are working with a new bank consortium led by Goldman Sachs GS.N and Morgan Stanley MS.N on the deal, which may value the company at 7-8 billion euros ($7.8-8.9 billion), including debt, they added.

BNP Paribas BNPP.PA and Citi C.N are among those helping as so-called bookrunners with the initial public offering, which could take place as early as May or June, they added.

BC Partners, Holtzbrinck and the banks declined to comment or were not immediately available for comment.

Springer Nature had canceled a planned stock market listing in 2018, citing weak demand. At the time, investors had balked at the high price expectations of the sellers and the high debt of Springer Nature.

“Leverage has come down significantly, making it a much easier sell now,” one of the people said.

Springer Nature was formed in 2015 through the merger of Holtzbrinck’s Macmillan Science and Education unit with BC Partners’ Springer business, which publishes scientific, technical and medical books and journals.

The tie-up was designed to make it easier to compete with the likes of RELX REL.L and Informa INF.L as publishers increasingly shift to digital content and readers use smartphones and tablets to access information.

Springer Nature, which says it is the largest English language academic book publisher with 13,000 new books every year, reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 551 million euros on revenues of 1.64 billion euros in 2017.

In 2018, Springer Nature, which employs 13,000 staff in 50 countries, posted sales of 1.66 billion euros.

Springer Nature is a separate company from German publisher Axel Springer SPRGn.DE.

Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Michelle Martin