Thirst for Knowledge

The Holtzbrinck Group draws together sources from research, education and culture to craft powerful currents of knowledge. It is the insatiable thirst for knowledge that is the hallmark of our authors and academics, our thinkers and data technicians. Combined with our credo of always putting quality before profit, it has fuelled the growth of our business into a world leading media company.

We do not know an answer to every question but we build networks and tools for those involved in sharing knowledge, teaching and in learning: our aim is to provide a wealth of ideas to help people in their work. We are not trying to reach a final destination. We are committed to accompanying the journey, as we are convinced that education, the ability to use language and literacy are the determinants of all progress.

We do not think that technology alone can solve every problem, but we know that the Internet disseminates culture and knowledge effectively.

Many new publishing opportunities are being opened up, more efficient methods of communication are being provided, and action, interaction and their consequences are in flux. The impact is deep on scientific communication, on how we educate our children, on how we enrich our lives through progress and the arts, on how we prosper – in every sense, not just materially.

The Holtzbrinck Publishing Group takes an active part in these changes. We contribute to human progress and cultural diversity by being a home to scientists, professors, teachers, journalists, editors, writers and entrepreneurs, to those who want to make a difference with their ideas, their inspiration, their knowledge and their expertise. We strive to offer the best environment for those who want to create meaningful understanding, to entertain, and to create technology that thrives. We want to be the best partner for those who want to grow through exciting and demanding projects, who want to be part of a professional network, who do not see shareholder value as their sole and foremost indicator for success.

Long term thinking, dedicated work, and an open atmosphere for debate and decency are our characteristics. In times of change our organization provides reliability, respect and trust. We do not fear failure. We embrace actively new technologies, they are core to our endeavor. We cherish the heritage of our societies and their treasures because the past is more than a legacy, more than just a reminder.

It is our pride and joy to publish many laureates of the sciences, of literature and peace as well as many other writers and journalists of tremendous substance. We take this privilege as an obligation to support them in every possible way. Their success is, finally, our success.

Stefan von Holtzbrinck




Our tradition is built on a foundation of hard work, intelligence and skill. Our authors, including many Nobel Prize winners, our readers and our customers continue to be entitled to nothing but the best.



Our intellectually and culturally diverse company is driven by independent thought and actions. We think in terms of the individual and collaborative networks, not in terms of hierarchy.



For us growth is not a purpose in itself. Growth comes instead from our organic core, the company's entrepreneurial spirit and dedicated long term view.



Our responsibility extends beyond our daily work: we are committed in a larger sense to having a positive effect on the earth and on the society in which we live.

At Holtzbrinck we are committed to the long term health of the earth’s many cultures and societies as well as to the planet itself. We work on many problems in many countries, with our goals and ambitions most frequently set by the individual passions of the people who come to us. We deliver remarkable value through our quality publishing and services, but we also actively pursue the greater good. The following offers a sample of achievements made within our group:

We are grateful first and foremost to all of our authors, many of whom have won prestigious awards. In the field of literature we congratulate John M. Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Harold Pinter, Orhan Pamuk, Doris Lessing, Jean-Marie Le Clézio, Herta Müller, Mario Vargas LLosa, Tomas Tranströmer and Alice Munro – for having won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the last decade. Scientific American, in its 168 year history, has published over 240 articles from Nobel Laureates including Albert Einstein, Linus Pauling, Francis Crick, Hans A Bethe, Steven Weinberg, Harold Varmus and Al Gore. Nature has published many scientific breakthroughs since its start in 1869, including Francis Crick and James Watson’s (1953) seminal ‘double helix’ paper, David Baltimore’s (1970) work on the enzyme reverse transcriptase as well as Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello’s (1998) RNA-interference paper.

For further information please visit:

The Macmillan Higher Education group celebrates Emilio Segrè, Murray Gell-Mann, Paul Berg, David Hubel, Leon Lederman, Paul Crutzen, Eric Kandel, and Paul Krugman as its Nobel laureate text book authors. The Palgrave’s Economics for the Curious would not have been possible without major contributions from Robert Solow (editor), Vernon Smith, Dale Mortensen, Michael Spence, Peter Diamond, Erik Maskin, Roger Myerson, John F. Nash and William Sharpe.

If you want to learn more about our sustainability efforts, please visit the following sites:

It is a pleasure and privilege for us to support the following institutions and societies amongst many others:

  • Cancer Research, UK and various cancer charities in the USA
  •, USA
  • Common Purpose, UK, Germany and South Africa
  • Creative Commons
  • Euroscience Open Forum
  • Förderverein Kinderfreundliches Stuttgart e.V., Germany
  • Goethe Institut, Germany
  • International Association of Teachers of English
  • Literacy Partners, USA
  • London University of the Arts, UK
  • Macmillan Cancer Support, UK
  • Max-Planck-Society, Germany
  • Museum on the Seam, Israel
  • National Book Foundation, USA
  • New York Public Library, USA
  • Oxfam, UK
  • PEN International
  • Pilotlight Foundation, Australia
  • The Publishing Training Centre, UK
  • S. Fischer Stiftung, Germany
  • Skip Lunch Fight Hunger, New York
  • Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, Germany
  • Stiftung Lesen, Germany
  • The American Academy in Berlin, Germany
  • The Nature Conservancy, USA
  • TYCA Outstanding Community College Teacher award, USA
  • UK Science Media Centre
  • United Jewish Appeal, USA
  • Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Facts & Figures

Our portfolio is characterized by committed investment in a healthy mix of organic growth and targeted acquisitions. In times of significant fluctuations and change in the global economy we aim for a sound equity ratio rate as a trustworthy basis to work from. This principle not only ensures the constant attribution of adequate resources for our entrepreneurial dynamism and ambition, it also enables our teams to deliver on a long-term vision, which is more important to us than quarterly earnings.

Revenue by

Business Area

Revenue by Business Area
Revenue by


Revenue by Region

A healthy balance sheet and financial resources provide a strong foundation for our entrepreneurial activities and allow us to focus on long-term strategic goals. We want to continue to grow and achieve sustainable results. To help us in achieving these objectives, we focus on the following business areas: “Macmillan Science and Education” (science and education), “Macmillan Publishers” (fiction and non-fiction) and “Holtzbrinck Digital, Information & Services” (internet companies, news media and services). The sale of the newspaper business, which began in 2009, was successfully completed in 2013. The long-term 50% holding in the “Die Zeit” newspaper is being managed in the “Holtzbrinck Digital, Information & Services” business area.

The consolidated turnover for the 2013 fiscal year totalled €1,719.3 million. The decline in turnover relative to the prior year is due to the strategic divestments made within the portfolio. After adjusting for portfolio and currency effects, the publishing group posted an organic increase in turnover of €60.6 million or +3.8% for the past financial year. The Holtzbrinck Publishing Group digital products and services revenues continued to grow strongly and currently comprise 27.8% of total turnover.

The companies of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group in their current structure reached an increase in operating profit before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation and extraordinary effects (operating EBITDA) of +1.2% for the 2013 fiscal year. This result has already absorbed high development costs for new and, in particular, digital products and business models. Overall the group level consolidated operating EBITDA decreased to €180.8 million as a result of divestment activities. Pre-tax profits in 2012 were influenced by divestment activity, which explains the decline to €96.8 million in 2013.

In the period between 2009 and 2013, the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group succeeded in extensively reducing its level of debt through the sale of its daily newspaper business and using its operating cash flow. As of 31 December 2013, the remaining net debt stood at €30.3 million. With a leverage ratio (ratio of net debt to operating EBITDA) at the end of the financial year of 0.2x and an equity ratio of 43.3%, the publishing group has secured its long-term stability and at the same time created room for future investments.

Turnover development according to region in €m. 2013 2012
United Kingdom
Rest of Europe
North America
Other regions
Total 1.719,3 1.880,2
Turnover development according to business area in €m. 2013 2012
Macmillan Publishers
Macmillan Science and Education
Holtzbrinck Digital, Information & Services
Consolidation of internal turnover items
Turnover of the Group portfolio at the balance-sheet date
1.691,6 1.645,3
Sold companies and parts of companies 27,7 234,9
Total 1.719,3 1.880,2
Other financial reference numbers in €m. 2013 2012
Operating EBITDA of the Group portfolio at the balance-sheet date** 180,9 178,8
Operating EBITDA, consolidated / total** 180,8 205,5
Pre-tax earnings 96,8 180,0
Balance sheet total 2.080,2 2.143,5
Net financial position -30,3 -111,1
Equity ratio*** 43,3% 41,5%

* Consolidated turnover, without minority stakeholdings

** Adjusted to account for extraordinary and non-recurring effects, including operating earnings obtained from stakeholdings assessed according to the equity method

*** Calculated on the basis of the total derived from equity (in accordance with IAS 32) and other financial instruments similar to equity

Countries & Markets

Our offices enable sales in



Our offices enable sales in 120 Countries

Our Team

Executive Board

  • Stefan von Holtzbrinck
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Michael Brockhaus
    Head of Group Strategy and M&A
  • John Sargent
    Chief Executive Officer Macmillan Publishers
  • Jens Schwanewedel
    Chief Financial Officer

Supervisory Board

  • Prof. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann (Chairman)
  • Bernd Scheifele (Deputy Chairman)
  • Prof. Jürgen Mlynek
  • Monika Schoeller


  • Monika Schoeller
  • Stefan von Holtzbrinck


Faith in tradition and the courage to innovate: today these qualities characterize the three dynamic and globally structured business areas – Macmillan Science and Education (science and education), Macmillan Publishers (fiction and non-fiction), as well as Holtzbrinck Digital, Information & Services (internet companies, news media and services).

2000 - today

In 2001 Dieter von Holtzbrinck passed on the management of the company to his brother Stefan von Holtzbrinck (*1963), leaving the company five years later to set up a family-foundation. In the context of a far-reaching digital reorientation, the investment emphasis was placed on new internet-based business models, on the education and science sector, as well as on the opening up of new markets and opportunities in new language environments outside the German-speaking countries. The recent sale of newspapers – except for the stakes held in Die Zeit – were completed with a view to strengthening our focus on the course embarked upon by our three divisions.


The company further pursued its long-term interests in the area of literature, science and education, in acquiring Farrar, Straus & Giroux and the Macmillan Group whose portfolio includes Nature, Macmillan Education, St. Martin´s Press, Pan Macmillan and Tor amongst others.


Georg-Dieter von Holtzbrinck (*1941) took over the company helm from his father in 1980. Domestically the main focus was increasingly placed on expanding the newspaper sector, ultimately leading to the acquisition of Die Zeit. In addition, the book activities were extended internationally, through the acquisition of Henry Holt; by contrast, in 1989 the book-club activities were discontinued. In the mid-1980s, the publishing group deepened its international commitment in the area of science and education with the acquisition of Scientific American and W.H.Freeman.


In 1971 Georg von Holtzbrinck decided to draw together the groups prospering activities in a holding company, the Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH publishing group, and to operate it on a decentralized basis.

1945 - 1970

During the years of reconstruction Georg von Holtzbrinck acquired the Hausbücherei in 1948 which merged with the Deutsche Bücherbund (German books’ association) in the 50’s. The latter’s growth and financial strength, as well as Georg von Holtzbrinck’s personal closeness to the publishers, enabled him to gain a share of ownership in renowned book-publishing and newspaper companies such as S. Fischer, Rowohlt and Handelsblatt.


The publishing group’s origins trace back to the book-club business. In the 1930s, the company founder Georg von Holtzbrinck (*1909 – †1983) began with the sale of subscriptions to books and periodicals (Bibliothek der Unterhaltung und des Wissens/ The Library of Entertainment and Knowledge, Devex).


We exist to help curious minds achieve great things. Our diverse, global businesses aim to push the frontiers of learning and discovery by providing the best content and most innovative technology solutions to students, teachers and researchers. Our future lies in continuing to put their needs at the centre of all we do and sharing their passion for transforming lives around the world.

As they face different challenges, we use our insight to tune in to what they will need in the future to help overcome them. We’ve never been afraid to try new things.

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Our ambitious publishing houses bring to life the works of authors from across the world. They are forerunners in delivering a range of formats, and are focused on creating products and communities that help foster a passion for reading from generation to generation.

We believe that language and reading skills are the foundation of every individual’s success. This drives our relentless commitment to promote and encourage the joy of reading to the widest spectrum of ages and cultures possible.

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An open mind and relevant analysis serve as the starting points for creating our unmistakable information offerings.

We monitor the pulse of society, continually identifying and exploring new opportunities that connect individuals with shared interests, both quickly and sustainably. The quality of our offerings provides users and readers with a precise and proven compass in the world of digital innovations, adding meaning and relevance to both cultural and technological developments.

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An Alternative Perspective

Global networking, technical progress and digital innovations are an opportunity and an incentive that drive all Holtzbrinck activity: we are always eager to learn, to see things from a new perspective, and we vigorously question existing solutions with the goal of producing better solutions.

We are on the look out for bold, cutting-edge thinkers with fresh, imaginative and unconventional ideas. The Group cultivates an environment that encourages independence and responsibility and allows space for creativity through productive collaborations in both national and international teams.

Discovering individual strengths, tapping into them and pro-actively nurturing them lays at the heart of our culture.

Find out more about the people in our Group, our working world, open positions and HR development programs through our recruitment sites: