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November 9, 2005 5:40 pm

Wolters dismisses persistent talk of takeover

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Wolters Kluwer, the Dutch publisher, on Wednesday set store by organic growth and insisted it would remain independent as it began to look beyond a three-year restructuring plan.

Nancy McKinstry, chief executive, said: “We are working on coming to the market with some thoughts as to what happens beyond 2006. Our focus will be on continuing to globalise our business.”

Ms McKinstry dismissed persistent takeover talk linking Wolters with the likes of Thomson of Canada, and Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier, saying: “As we continue to deliver shareholder results we have a very good future as an independent company.”

She said that while rival Dutch publisher VNU had triggered a shareholder storm with its $7bn bid for IMS Health, the US market research company, “shareholders know what to expect from us”.

While conceding the turnround strategy she launched late in 2003 was initially met with scepticism and criticism, she said: “You have to talk to investors and make clear your intentions. I have worked very hard on explaining what we were doing and delivering on that promise.”

On speculation VNU might be broken up if the IMS deal failed, Ms McKinstry said she would not be interested in any part of that company, as it was not active in related areas and Wolters Kluwer had no interest in a transformational acquisition.

“I would never say never, but it is highly unlikely that we would do anything transformational,” she said.

Wolters posted flat third-quarter core profit. It raised its full-year cost-savings goal to €95m ($111m) and had earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation of €143m on sales of €862m. It expects similar organic growth in 2005 and 4 per cent in2007.

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