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Nature magazine publisher to merge with Springer Science

FRANKFURT, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The publisher of science magazines Nature and Scientific American is merging with private equity-owned peer Springer Science+Business Media, creating a group with 1.5 billion euros ($1.75 billion) in annual sales and 13,000 employees.

Germany's Holtzbrinck, which owns Nature publisher Macmillan Science and Education, will combine the majority of its activities with BC Partners' Springer unit, which among other publishes scientific, technical and medical books and journals.

Holtzbrinck Publishing Group will hold 53 percent in the joint company, with BC Partners holding the rest, the companies said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The private equity group aims to eventually divest its holding in the publishing business entirely, BC Partners Managing Partner Ewald Walgenbach said.

"The most likely exit will be an IPO. However, that is still at least 2-3 years away," he said.

Springer Science Chief Executive Derk Haank will head the new merged company, which will have an enterprise value of more than 5 billion euros. Macmillan Science and Education Chief Executive Annette Thomas will serve as Chief Scientific Officer.

"The expected economies of scale will allow for additional investments in new product development," Haank said.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2015.

Macmillan's English language school books and social sciences publisher Palgrave Macmillan will be part of the merged entity, as will Springer's publications and data for professionals.

Holtzbrinck's investments in IT and software businesses, its consumer books unit Macmillan Publishers and its U.S. higher education business will not be part of the transaction.

Springer Science is a separate company from German publisher Axel Springer owning leading tabloid Bild, while Holtzbrinck Publishing is a different company than Dieter von Holtzbrinck Medien, which publishes German business daily Handelsblatt.

($1 = 0.8536 euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Maria Sheahan)