Lord Of The Cyberpress

Thomson charges online with his West Publishing purchase

Although Kenneth R. Thomson is Canada's richest man, with a fortune of more than $5 billion, he has long had a reputation as a tightwad. The chairman of Thomson Corp. "acts and looks as if he were a small-town bank teller living near the poverty line," writes biographer Peter C. Newman. Thomson has been known to stock up on hamburger buns when they're on sale, Newman adds. So it's no wonder that jaws dropped when Thomson's company announced on Feb. 26 it would pay $3.4 billion for West Publishing Co., a specialist legal publisher. It was the most ever paid for such a specialty house.

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