Jan. 4, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 8

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    Britannica sold by Benton Foundation

    Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. has announced that 100 percent of the company's stock will be purchased by an investment group led by Jacob Safra for an undisclosed amount.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. is owned by the William Benton Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation whose sole beneficiary is the University, in accordance with the wishes of the late Sen. William Benton, Britannica's previous owner.

    "Britannica is the crown jewel of accumulated knowledge," Safra said. "Its scholarship over the centuries has been a gift to mankind. Our priority will be to continuously expand content in an evolving world; our goal will be global distribution to all people, all incomes and all ages."

    Howard Krane, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University and chairman of the board of directors of the Benton Foundation, said, "We are pleased to have a purchaser with the commitment to build on Britannica's proud heritage as one of civilization's foremost sources of authoritative and comprehensive knowledge."

    From its inception 227 years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britannica has enjoyed a history of intellectual leadership and innovation, distinguished by its many contributors, who have included Madame Curie, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein. Its pioneering work continues today on the World Wide Web, as Britannica has become the first and pre-eminent on-line reference publisher on the Internet.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. publishes the most comprehensive encyclopedic data base in the English language, making its 44 million words available in several forms besides the venerable 32-volume printed set, including Britannica CD and Britannica Online. It also publishes several other reference works, including Great Books of the Western World and Annals of America. In addition, the company owns Merriam-Webster Inc., one of the world's leading publishers of dictionaries and thesauri. The company is headquartered in Chicago.