Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company would like to thank all the professional students out there. The firm is a publisher of educational material, covering areas from pre-K through grade 12, as well as adult learners. Houghton Mifflin publishes textbooks and printed materials, and provides digital content online and via CD-ROM. It additionally publishes fiction (including J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series), as well as nonfiction titles and reference materials, and offers professional resources and educational services to teachers. Houghton Mifflin has origins dating back to 1832, and is owned by private-equity concerns, including hedge fund Paulson & Co. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
Houghton Mifflin is still feeling the ill effects of global financial crisis, which has caused massive spending cuts in the US school budget, its main market. Education accounts for about 90% of the company's revenues, and struggling state and local governments have recently been forced to cut back on education-related purchases, causing Houghton Mifflin to file for Chapter 11. It is undergoing a reorganization to help it eliminate more than $3 billion in debt. The company lost $2.18 billion in 2011, including a $1.67 billion writedown, and net sales fell 14%.
The business operates through a variety of business segments, divisions, and brands that focus on different of K-12, international, and trade and reference holdings. Imprint Steck-Vaughn publishes text books and other educational material, while The Learning Company offers educational software brands such as Reader Rabbit, Carmen Sandiego, ClueFinders, and Oregon Trail. Its Classroom Connect brings software and other technology advances to K-12 schools in the US. Best-sellers from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade and Reference Publishers include titles from the Curious George series and the Peterson Field Guides. The company also publishes the American Heritage Dictionary.
In 2011 the company embarked on a restructuring in order to refocus its core business on Trade, K-12, Consumer Education, and International markets. As part of the reorganization, it eliminated its Emerging Markets division and restructured its Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, which included the closure of a Washington, D.C. office. It also implemented a workforce reduction.
These changes follow a 2010 financial restructuring Houghton Mifflin made to reduce its debt load and strengthen its balance sheet. The restructuring cut its debt from $7.4 billion to $3.2 billion in a swap for equity. The company also received a cash infusion of some $650 million. Another result of the deal, the company devoted some $300 million to invest in new growth and innovation.
Part of the investment is being used to make targeted acquisitions. In 2011 the company purchased The Leadership and Learning Center, a professional development research and solutions provider. It made the deal to expand its capabilities in addressing school standards, assessment, accountability, data analysis, collaboration, and leadership for overall school improvement.
Barry O'Callaghan formed Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing through leading the reverse takeover of Irish-based education software firm Riverdeep. An investment banker, O'Callaghan helped lead the $1.75 billion buyout of Houghton Mifflin from private equity firms in 2007, as well as the subsequent $4 billion acquisition of Harcourt Education from publishing giant Reed Elsevier. O'Callaghan's investment stake was wiped out by the 2010 refinancing. Paulson & Co. led the refinancing, and today is the company's largest investor.