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Amsterdam-based specialty publisher Wolters Kluwer NV said on Dec. 19 that it would acquire Loislaw.com Inc., an online legal information provider, in a stock deal valued at approximately $95 million. Terms call for Wolters Kluwer to pay $4.35 per share for all outstanding shares of the Van Buren, Ark.-based unit. The company expects the acquisition to generate positive cash earnings per share by 2002; the company expects to fund the purchase through internal resources. Calls to both companies about financial and legal representation in the deal were not returned. News of the deal sent Loislaw.com shares skyrocketing, at one point up 181 percent from the previous day’s close of $1.50 to $4.22. Serving primarily small- to mid-sized law firms, Loislaw.com expects to achieve break-even level EBITDA this year. Upon closing, expected in the spring, Loislaw.com will be absorbed by Wolters’ Aspen Publishers unit in Gaithersburg, Md. Loislaw.com, which provides subscription-based, Internet-delivered primary and secondary source material for legal research, is expected to bring in roughly $14 million in sales for the year 2000. Given those numbers, the deal price represents a seven times sales multiple. The acquisition of Loislaw.com is part of Wolters Kluwer’s strategy to expand its information service offerings in the core areas of legal, tax and business, international health and science, and education. “Loislaw gives us the opportunity to accelerate our overall strategy and broaden our ability to deliver comprehensive Internet portals to legal professionals,” Hugh Yarrington, a Wolters Kluwer executive board member, said in a statement. Last month, Wolters Kluwer announced plans to cut 150 jobs as part of a company-wide restructuring. The company also said it would take a one-time charge as a result. The company’s Aspen unit publishes legal practice materials and has annual sales of more than $150 million. In total, Wolters Kluwer generated more than 3 billion euros ($2.68 billion) in sales in 1999. Copyright (c)2000 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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