Add the three, carry the two, plus one, and the answer is $7.5. Billion.
If HM Riverdeep is allowed to acquire Reed Elsevier's Harcourt division, the newly created entity begins its life with $7.5 billion in money owed to investors. Those who have invested their retirement funds with Davy stockbrokers will of course be keen to recoup their moneys at some point down the road, and Citigroup would not care to go to its Board of Directors with a portfolio of bad loans to be written off. How will the minnow that swallowed two whales manage to keep up the payments?
HM Riverdeep expects to see savings of $70 million out of Houghton Mifflin's management. The bean counters anticipate reduced operating expenses because the merged entity can operate more efficiently as a unit than as separate companies. Just eliminating two or three executives from corner offices ought to accomplish that feat, and Riverdeep has enough high-powered leaders to take over and run things to Mr. O'Callaghan's satisfaction. No need to lay off the lower echelon of employees....
It is also believed that $100 million worth of savings can be squeezed out of Harcourt, and here again one can see how easily that much could be cut from a budget by giving the sack to the suits whose performance proved to be a disappointment to Reed Elsevier. In no time at all, operating expenses are reduced and the composite structure is leaner and faster. Think of the minnow becoming more like a shark.
After cutting out the fat, it's time to generate some profits, because that is what really pays the bills -- and the mortgage. Add the savings projected, factor in some more "revenue synergies", and you're looking at $1 billion (EBITDA). Now that's some real revenue.
HM Riverdeep is counting on Houghton Mifflin to do what they need it to do while various government entities explore the anti-trust potential of the Harcourt acquisition. The minnow has to prove to its investors that it can live up to the promises of reduced operating expenses and increased sales and revenue, and it has to accomplish this goal before the end of the year when the Harcourt sale could be finalized. The investors will be watching, nervous fingers on wallets that can be closed up tight in a flash.