46. Wolters Kluwer nv

Revenues 2020: € 4.600 billion



One of the world's market leaders in all things publishing as well as one of the largest educational and information service providers of this day and age developed from four Dutch publishing families in the 19th century. The company's product range includes publications and provides information & services  for specialist staff in law, medicine/health as well as taxes & finance. In the last few years, Wolters Kluwer reacted to the crisis that the print media business had been suffering from and consistently expanded the online and software divisions. The company is active in more than 40 countries in Europe, North America, Latin-America and Asia. The American Nancy McKinstry sits on top of the company. As of 2011, she is the only female CEO of a company that is also listed on the Dutch stock market.

General Information


Postbus 1030
2400 BA, Alphen aan den Rijn

Zuidpoolsingel 2
2408 ZE, Alphen aan den Rijn
Tel: +31 (0)172 641 400
Fax: +31 (0)172 474 889

Wolters Kluwer Deutschland GmbH
Luxemburger Straße 449
50939 Köln
Tel: 0221/94373-7000
Fax: 0221/94373-7201

Branches: Health, Tax, Accounting, Corporate Services, Financial Services, Legal and Regulatory
Legal Form: Naamloze Vennootschap (nv or N.V.), stock corporation
Financial Year: 01/01 - 12/31
Founding Year: 1836 (Wolters Schoolbook Publishing House), 1858 (Noordhoff Publishing House), 1891 (Kluwer starts career as publicist), 1968 (Merger of Schoolbook and Noordhoff ), 1972 (Merger of Wolters-Noordhoff and the Information and Communications Union of the Samson family), 1987 (Merger of Kluwer und Wolters-Samson: Wolters Kluwer NV)

Table I: Economic Performance
Revenues (€ Mio.)4,2974,2083,6603,5653,6033,3543,5563,4253,3743,4133,377
Profit (loss) after taxes (€ Mio.)490423474467476444481234503546435
Share Price (in Euro, State: 12/31)36.3033.3124.7520.1520.6717.1216.4015.3013.5422.4821.79




Table II: Segment revenues (€ Mio. Euro, percentage of total revenues)

Health & Pharma SolutionsFinancial & Compliance ServicesTax & Accounting Legal & Regulatory Total
2008687 257 801 1,629 3,374
2009750 271 886 1,518 3,425
2010816 307 922 1,511 3,556
2011639 333 931 1,451 3,354
2012745 386 981 1,491 3,603
2013775 378 965 1,447 3,565
2014816 401 946 1,497 3,660

Executives and Directors



  • Nancy McKinstry, CEO
  • Kevin Entricken, CFO
  • Diana Nole, CEO Wolters Kluwer Health
  • Karen Abramson, CEO Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting
  • Richard Flynn, CEO Wolters Kluwer Governance, Risk & Compliance
  • Stacey Caywood, CEO Wolters
  • Stacey Caywood, CEO Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory
  • Corinne Saunders, CEO Emerging & Developing Markets
  • Andres Sadler, CEO Global Business Services
  • Dennis Cahill, Executive Vice President Global Platform Organization


Board of Directors:

  • Peter Wakkie, Vorsitzender, Royal AHOLD
  • Rene Hooft Graafland, Heineken
  • Bruno Angelici, AstraZeneca Plc.
  • Len Forman, New York Times Company
  • Fidelm Russo, EMC Corporation
  • Jeanette Horan, IBM
  • Ben Noteboom, Randstad Holding



Wolters Kluwer is one of the global market leaders in publishing and the second-largest company in the Netherlands. The history of the global multimedia company goes back to four Dutch publishing families – Wolters, Noordhoff, Kluwer and Samson.

In 1836, Jan Berend Wolters founded the schoolbook-publisher in Groningen, which he later renamed into Wolters Publishing Company. Because Wolters had no children, his brother-in-law Eduard Benjamin ter Horst took over the company leadership after Wolters' death. What followed was a period of expansion, during which ter Horst expanded the company division with a printing works and a bookbindery. In 1885, ter Horst made his son a business partner.

After the death of Horst Jr., things went south for the publisher to the point where half-brothers Felix Robert and Adolf ter Horst even considered the closure of the company for a short while. However, they turned the company into a company limited by shares and appointed a CEO for the first time , who did not hail from the family itself. Dr. Anthony M.H. Schepman, an employee of the J.B. Wolters Company and distant relative, became the CEO in 1917 and held the position for 40 years. The former banker Felix Robert ter Horst took over the position of general director and supervised the company's activities.

Under the leadership of ter Horst and Schepman, the publisher launched further expansions. Hence, it opened a satellite branch in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1920 (A Dutch-East India colony), in order to provide the local Dutch-speaking population with literature. In 1959, these expansion endeavours were met with a sudden and cruel fate when Indonesia decided to nationalise all foreign companies, including J.B. Wolter Jakarta. Good thing the publisher already established a stable market presence on the Flemish book market by 1949.

The era of family-based publishers also was on its last legs, when a wave of mergers in the industry did not spare the publishing houses. Hence, the J.B. Wolters Company and the publisher Noordhoff (founded in 1858 by Noordhoff), the actual publishing house of which was located in direct proximity to Wolters, merged in 1968. In 1972, the freshly founded company merged with the 'Information and Communication Union' (ICU), a company that emerged from the combination of the publishers Samson and A.W. Sitjhoff two years before. In 1983, the name of the whole company was changed to Wolters-Samson.

The last piece of the puzzle in the history of Wolters-Kluwer popped up when Ebele E. Kluwer published his first book in Deventer in the Eastern part of the Netherlands in 1891. Kluwer initially pursued a career as book trader and author. As far as his publishing work was concerned, he focused on the release of educational and university books for many years, as well as children's literature. The Kluwer company had always been a family company and became the third-largest publishing company in the Netherlands. In 1986, the company revenue amounted to about 996 million Gulden. Then in 1987, the first of two take-over attempts by the largest publisher in the country: Reed Elsevier announced that it would buy up the shares of the Kluwer publisher. One year before, Elsevier already had been in talks with the publisher with the goal to merge the two companies as swiftly as possible, but the head office of Kluwer rejected the plan, stating differences in business philosophy as the reason. Furthermore, the publisher responded to the Elsevier's share buying activities with releasing even more ordinary shares and sitting down with Wolters-Samson to discuss a potential friendly take-over. The preference to merge with the smaller publisher Wolters-Samson can be explained with the similarity in business philosophy and the more or less identical focus on specific topics. On the 14th of August 1987, Wolters-Samson could announce the ownership of 50,9% of the Kluwer shares. The new company changed its name to Wolters Kluwer NV and moved into its new headquarters in Amsterdam.

Through this merger, Wolters Kluwer NV became the second-largest publishing-company in the Netherlands. The acquisition of shares of various foreign companies, such as the US-American subsidiary Kluwer Law Book Publishing Company or several independent companies like Raven Press, Aspen System and more, marked an era of international expansion for the publisher. In the following years, the company extended its reach to France, West Germany and Spain. In 1989, Wolters Kluwer NV generated approximately 44% of its revenue on foreign markets.

When the central European borders were opened up, the demand in special publications about European rights and translations increased. Wolters Kluwer moved into this particular field of interest and began expanding into Eastern Europe. In 1995, the company once again extended its sphere of influence on European territories through acquiring even more publishing companies in Sweden, Austria, France, Spain and Germany. At this point, the company operated satellite branches in 16 countries with more than 8000 employees.

In 1996, Wolters Kluwer bought the well-known US-American special interest publisher for taxation and economy CCH for about two billion US-Dollars. Thus, the company strengthened its position on the American and Asian markets. The years 1997 and 1998 saw more take-over attempts by Reed Elsevier. A deal, which had been deemed as safe as the Amen in the church, fell through in 1998.

As a reaction to this incident, Wolters Kluwer created a development counsel that was supposed to come up with a growth plan for the company's future. A short while later, the 'strategic agenda 2002' would form the framework for the following years. The agenda stated that the company should increase its focus regarding publishing activities in tax, business, legal, medical/scientific and educational/professional training. Wolters Kluwer took over Waverly Inc., Ovid Technologies and Plenum Publishing Corporation in 1998, two major media companies for science & medical interests and sold the publisher of children's literate, Wayland Publishers in 1999. Another point in the 'Strategic Agenda 2002' was concerned with the ever-increasing importance of electronic media and the Internet in the world of publishing. Wolters Kluwer was aware of the fact that traditional ways of print media would become obsolete eventually, that is, fall behind the new media and it was paramount to stay on top of the industry's technological advancements and developments. Therefore, the company integrated new media into the traditional methods of presentation and publication. The scientific publisher Kluwer Academic Publishing merged with the Springer Akademischen Verlag in 2004 and ceased to use the Kluwer brand.



Nancy McKinstry took on the role of Chief Executive Officer in 2003 and became the only female CEO in the Dutch publishing industry at the same time. She is also the first non-Dutch person at the top of Wolters Kluwer. Her goal is to help the weakened information company back to its feet and put it back on the growth track. In order to achieve this goal, she launched a radical restructuring process in the company and emphasised concepts such as consolidation, cost efficiency and a better integration of the large publishing network. As a result of which the company had to part with 1600 employees.

A second project of McKinstry was to close the gap that had developed between the company and its business competitors such as Reed Elsevier as far as electronic publishing and the Internet was concerned, henceforth extending the publishing activities in the fields in question. Ever since, the number of publications in electronic media and programs for software development have consistently increased, without limiting or restricting the work in the print sector.

In 2007, the company pushed off its education division, as it failed in meeting the high return demands of the executive board. Nancy McKinstry sold it to the investor Bridgepoint Capital for 774 million Euro. This money was used to launch a strategy that intended to buy back shares and start further expansions. The sale concluded McKinstry's sanitation program. She pulled the information company out of the red numbers and made sure the company had reason to celebrate when its revenues increased by almost 9% to 3.7 billion Euros in 2007. In 2010, McKinstry was awarded Rank 19 of the 50 most important women in international economy by the Financial Times, as well as being Nr.77 on the list of Forbes' most powerful women in the world.