NEW YORK, June 12, 2000 — Thomson Learning, a division of The Thomson Corporation, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of ARCO, a leading publisher of academic, civil service, and military test preparation materials. ARCO is an imprint of IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ: IDGB) and formerly a division of the Macmillan General Reference Group (MGR). Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. ARCO has considerable consumer brand recognition with over 50 million books in print and a history of more than 60 years in the test preparation business. ARCO’s approximately 300 active titles fall into seven categories: academic test preparation, civil service test preparation, military test preparation, professional certification and licensing test preparation, education guidance, career guidance, and general interest. Traditionally, sales have been directed overwhelmingly to the trade and wholesale market. Peterson’s, the nation’s most respected provider of online and print education and career exploration information, will expand distribution by utilizing existing sales forces to sell the ARCO brand to secondary schools, libraries, and the government. Peterson’s is a division of Thomson Learning. The addition of ARCO, which has a current list of approximately 120 test-prep titles, will significantly increase the number of products in Peterson’s test-prep line, provide ready-made quality content to build online services, and allow the company to establish a broader content platform from which to attract prospective partners. With a leading share in civil service and military test-prep product categories, areas in which Peterson’s currently does not publish, ARCO will not only provide 43 new book products in this sector, but will also supply key content for the continued development of online career exploration services. In particular, Peterson’s QuickStart Career Wizards, a recently-launched online career assessment and evaluation service, will be expanded using content derived from ARCO’s civil service, military, as well as professional certification and licensing test preparation products.
"Today’s announcement is yet another indication of Thomson Learning’s ongoing commitment to strengthening our delivery of lifelong learning products and services," said Bob Christie, president and CEO of Thomson Learning. "ARCO’s reputation among test-takers is unmatched. The addition of ARCO will certainly enhance Peterson’s position as a leading provider of comprehensive and results-producing test preparation materials.
"The opportunities presented by this acquisition will allow us to penetrate further into the increasingly lucrative test-prep market and provide key content for online test preparation. With ARCO’s lower-priced titles and more comprehensive product line, we expect to catapult into the second position in the test-prep market. The large numbers of practice tests, a major selling feature of the ARCO line, is ideal for independent study, which is very popular with consumers, particularly among distance learners," said Michael Brannick, president and CEO of Peterson’s. "We are pleased IDGB has confidence in Peterson’s to successfully build on that brand recognition and take ARCO to its next highest level of growth," continued Brannick.
Test preparation is an expanding and diverse market that includes test prep courses, book and software sales, and private tutoring. It has an estimated earnings potential of $250-$300 million annually and industry experts believe several factors will contribute to its projected growth. The student population is expected to grow nearly 15% over the next ten years. Many are prospective graduate students, a highly motivated demographic group that tends to purchase multiple test preparation materials. Workers in a competitive job market constantly feel the need to seek additional training and upgrade their skills and certification through testing. As more and more students turn to the Internet for test information, practice, and preparation, tests will be delivered online. This will generate a resulting increase in the number of students seeking online practice and preparation. Finally, extensive research indicates that there is indeed a positive correlation between test preparation and test results.
IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. (Nasdaq: IDGB), headquartered in Foster City, Calif., is a leading global knowledge company with a diverse portfolio of technology, consumer and general how-to brands, computer-based learning tools, Web sites and Internet e-services. IDGB’s best-selling brands include For Dummies®, 3-D Visual®, Bible, Cliffs Notes™, Frommer’s®, The Unofficial Guides®, Betty Crocker’s®, Weight Watchers® and Webster’s New World™. IDGB is also the publisher of AOL Press™, Hewlett-Packard Press™, Netscape Press™ and Novell PressTM.
The company has more than 4,000 active titles, has publishing partnership agreements in more than 90 countries plus translations in 36 languages around the world. IDGB owns the Web sites www.cliffsnotes.com; www.dummies.com; www.dummiesdaily.com; and www.frommers.com. More information about IDGB is available from the company’s SEC filings or by visiting the company Web site at www.idgbooks.com. IDGB is a subsidiary of International Data Group, Inc., a leading global provider of information technology media, research, conferences and expositions.
Founded in 1966, Peterson’s, is the nation’s largest and most respected provider of lifelong learning online resources, software, reference guides, and books. The Education SupersiteSM at petersons.com-the Internet’s most heavily traveled education resource-has searchable databases and interactive tools for contacting U.S.-accredited institutions and programs. CollegeQuestSM (www.collegequest.com) offers a complete solution for every step of the college decision-making process. GradAdvantageTM (www.gradadvantage.org), developed with Educational Testing Service, is the only electronic admissions service capable of sending official graduate test score reports with a candidate’s online application. Peterson’s serves over 55 million education consumers annually. Peterson’s is a division of Thomson Learning, one of the world’s largest providers of lifelong learning. Thomson Learning serves the needs of individuals, learning institutions, and corporations with products and services for both traditional and distributed learning. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut with multiple offices worldwide, Thomson Learning is a division of The Thomson Corporation (www.thomson.com), one of the world’s leading e-information and solutions companies in the business and professional marketplace. For more information, visit http://www.thomsonlearning.com.