On July 10, Thomson Reuters announced plans to sell its intellectual property and science business to private-equity funds affiliated with Onex Corporation and Baring Private Equity Asia for $3.55 billion. The intellectual property and science business owned by Reuters provided intellectual property, scientific information and data, and other tools, which were consumed by various stakeholders in academia, governments, publishers, and companies. The business’s portfolio includes Web of Science, Thomson CompuMark, Thomson Innovation, MarkMonitor, Thomson Reuters Cortellis, and Thomson IP Manager.
This decision has been primarily driven by Thomson Reuters’ desire to stabilize their core business. “With the completion of this divestiture, Thomson Reuters will be even more focused on operating at the intersection of global commerce and regulation,” stated the President and Chief Executive Officer of Thomson Reuters in the press release. The company plans to use about $1 billion of the proceeds to buy back shares as well as reinvest in the business.
The sale of Web of Science – a widely used scientific citation indexing service accessed by researchers, journals, publishers, and institutions across the world – might have some long-term implications for academia. The Web of Science platform, also releases journal impact factors (JIF) every year. In recent years, harsh criticism has been directed at the emphasis laid on JIF with scholarly circles discussing the need to “purge the conversation of the impact factor.” It remains to be seen how this move will impact the JIF and the use of Web of Science by academics.