ProQuest to Buy Library Software Firm Ex Libris for an Estimated $500m

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The Israeli developer of library automation software Ex Libris has agreed to be acquired by information management company ProQuest, which is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The terms of the transaction have not been disclosed but it is thought that the purchase price of the company headquartered in Jerusalem is around $500 million.

Ex Libris has around 500 employees, a few hundred of whom are based in Israel. The company was purchased in 2012 by Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco private equity firm. In addition to its headquarters, its main research and development center is also in Jerusalem. It has offices worldwide. The CEO of Ex Libris is Matti Shem-Tov.

A joint statement released yesterday in Ann Arbor and Jerusalem said that Ex Libris serves more than 5,600 customers in 90 countries, including 43 of the world’s top 50 universities worldwide and over 40 national libraries. Its clients include Oxford and Cambridge universities as well as the British National Library in the United Kingdom; Harvard University and the Library of Congress in the United States and the national library of China.

“The capabilities of ProQuest and Ex Libris span expertise in print, electronic and digital content, as well as solutions for library management, discovery and research workflows,” the companies said in their statement. “Bringing these complementary assets together will enable ProQuest and Ex Libris to enhance existing products and accelerate innovation of new services to quickly address some of libraries’ most pressing challenges: disparate workflows for print, electronic and digital resources, and navigation of complex and rapidly changing technology, content and user environments. The acquisition is expected to close in the coming months.” 

“After closing, ProQuest and Ex Libris will form a distinct business unit called Ex Libris, a ProQuest Company,” the companies said. The unit will be led by Shem-Tov and supported by Ex Libris’ management team, the companies added. According to the Ex Libris website, Shem-Tov has been with the company since 2003.

In reporting on the transaction, the American Libraries website, the magazine of the American Library Association, noted that “the arrangement for Shem-Tov to continue with Ex Libris under the ownership of ProQuest is not an interim arrangement, but a long-term commitment.”

Shem-Tov and his management team have steered Ex Libris “through multiple ownership arrangements preserving key products and strategies,” the website remarked. “It is important to note that at this time the acquisition has not closed and that product, personnel, and business strategies are still under review. More specific product roadmaps will be developed and announced in the coming months once the merger is finalized,” the website added.

Ex Libris got its start in the 1980s as a corporate spinoff of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, having developed the library management and book catalogue software called Aleph. The leading figure in the enterprise, which was known as Aleph Yissum at the time, was Yohanan Shproch, the original developer of Aleph. After the company was up and running , the university signed an agreement with entrepreneur Azriel Morag, who established Ex Libris, which marketed the software. Aleph Yissum and Ex Libris were merged in 1996.

Two years later Walden Israel and Tamar Ventures invested about $4 million in the company to strengthen its global presence. Among its later owners was Francisco Partners, a private equity firm based in San Francisco. “The value of Ex Libris increased substantially through each phase of ownership,” American Libraries reported. “According to business reports published at the time, Francisco Partners purchased Ex Libris for $62 million in 2006.”