RELX tumbles as University of California cancels multi-million-pound academic journals subscription

It’s not the value of the contract itself that’s the issue, it’s more what University of California’s decision could mean for other institutions

Relx’s Elsevier business is the largest academic publisher in the world

Publishing giant RELX PLC (LON:REL) was among the biggest blue-chip losers on Friday after the University of California cancelled its multi-million-pound academic journals contract.

Relx’s Elsevier unit publishes almost half-a-million academic articles every year and UC was happy to keep paying its hefty subscription fee so it could continue to access them.

But for the same price, it also wanted Relx to distribute its authors’ work to other researchers for free, something universities would normally have to pay extra for.

Analysts said it was “no wonder” the publisher refused to give in to the demands given that it would have undermined its business model.

The number crunchers don’t expect the cancellation to affect this year’s numbers too much, but the stock fell 5.6% to 1,631p on concerns over the possible longer-term fall-out.

“How much does this encourage other universities to take a similar line?” asked City broker Liberum in a research note.

“That would presumably be the issue for Elsevier as UC's very open move could encourage others to follow suit.”

Quick facts: RELX PLC

Price: 1804.5 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £34.98 billion

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