This week’s deals
Events. The Linz-based Startup300, which operates as an angel investor network and business accelerator offering services to Austrian startups, has acquired the flagship Pioneers Festival. It annually brings together a global community of 2,500 tech founders, investors, and 500 startups at the 500-year-old Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna. Terms not disclosed.
Events. Diversified Communications – the increasingly global B2B events, digital and magazine business – has acquired the 12-year-old The Running Event exhibition, conference, and digital magazine Running Insight, from Formula 4 Media. The US-based Diversified has almost 50 brands, operates over 150 events, 25 digital services, and seven print publications, including: National Fisherman (US), Mumbrella (Australia), and the London Design Fair (UK). The 60-year-old Diversified is owned by the Hildreth family in Maine, US, and formerly also owned radio and TV channels.
B2B information. The new Hong Kong-based private equity firm Aretex Capital Partners is acquiring the Dallas-based Alerian, a provider of energy infrastructure indices and market intelligence, including the flagship Alerian MLP Index (AMZ), which is widely used by industry executives, investment professionals, research analysts, and national media to analyze relative performance. Over $18bn is directly tied to the Alerian Index Series through exchange-traded funds and notes, separately managed accounts, and structured products. Aertex was founded in 2017 by two employees of ZZ Capital International. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
B2B information. Iovation provides device identity and consumer authentication capabilities, and a digital device reputation consortium, with insight into nearly 5bn unique devices from more than 35,000 leading brands across more than 50 countries. This deal will strengthen the $12.5bn market cap TransUnion’s fraud and identity solutions capability. TransUnion operates in more than 30 countries including North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Terms not disclosed.
B2B information. New York-based Ipreo employs 1,700 people, providing information to support capital-raisings. Owned by private equity funds managed by Blackstone and Goldman Sachs, Ipreo’s sale is conditional on regulatory approvals and is expected to complete in the second half of 2018. IHS Markit is a London-based global information provider, listed on Nasdaq, which has revenue of almost $4bn. Its brands include: Jane’s Fighting Ships, R.L.Polk, McCloskey’s and Fairplay.
Broadcast-streaming. Comcast, the world’s largest broadcasting company, confirmed it is putting together a rival offer to Disney. Last year, 21st Century Fox turned down a bid from Comcast citing regulatory concerns. Comcast and Disney are also slugging it out with rival offers for Europe’s largest pay TV network Sky. Meanwhile, the Murdoch family have appointed executives to manage Fox News and Fox Sports, the TV channels which would be omitted from Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox. These moves may well be complicated further if Comcast’s impending bid includes the news and sports channels. It is possible, however, that the Comcast bid for 21st Century Fox is merely a tactic to persuade Disney, ultimately, to allow the Comcast bid for Sky TV while it acquires the rest of 21st Century Fox. Those are the deals are considered most likely to achieve regulatory clearance in the US and Europe.
Broadcast-streaming. Urban One, the largest African American broadcasting company in the US with a market cap of $88m, has agreed to acquire the assets of the radio station The Team 980 (WTEM 980 AM) from Red Zebra Broadcasting, pending FCC approval. In addition, Urban One has also entered into an agreement with American football team the Washington Redskins to ensure continuing coverage of all Redskins games on The Team 980. The privately-owned 38-year-old Urban One aims to be “the most trusted source in the African-American community that informs, entertains and inspires our audience by providing culturally relevant integrated content through our radio, television, and digital platforms.” Terms not disclosed.
B2C digital. In an all Japanese transaction, the 19-year-old social network Mixi, Inc (which has some 20m active users) will sell Diverse, Inc., an online dating business, to IBJ, Inc. Based in Tokyo, Diverse provides marriage partner introduction and dating services, and has developed an online matchmaking platform. Terms not disclosed.
Music. Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company is selling its 60% equity interest in EMI Music Publishing to Sony Corporation of America “based on an enterprise value of $4.75bn”. The $2.3bn deal gives Sony approximately 90% of EMI, which becomes a consolidated subsidiary. The remaining equity is held by the estate of former pop star Michael Jackson.
Events. ITE is the £120m-revenue, London-based operator of exhibitions principally in Eastern Europe and Asia. The seven Ascential shows it is acquiring include market-leading UK brands such as the International Spring and Autumn Fairs, Pure, BETT and CWIEME. The largest of these are entrenched giftware trade shows attended by independent retailers (like the former GLM shows now owned by Emerald in the US). But CWIEME is a global franchise in manufacturing and the 33-year-old exhibition show BETT could also go international. In 2017, the acquired shows had revenues of £77.5m and EBITDA profit of £24m. At nearly four times revenue and 12.5 times EBITDA, this is a full price for these cash-generative but mature, no/low-growth B2B exhibitions. ITE has explained that the acquired exhibitions were “scalable” (pushing back on fears of ex-growth). Since it adds some 60% to ITE revenues and makes the UK its largest market, the deal (which is subject to shareholder approval) can certainly be transformative. This is a year of unending exhibition deals and the pivotal nature of ITE’s acquisition was underlined by its just-released first-half financials that showed like-for-like growth in volume and yields for the first time since 2014. If the company’s troubles with its Russian business are truly in the past, it can now concentrate on trying to prove – at the very least – that the International Spring Fair, long one of the UK’s largest B2B exhibitions, can be returned to growth. Success may, of course, just make ITE another target for its larger UK-based peers, Reed Exhibitions and the ravenous Informa. Even the impressive Ascential might be at risk. Its divestment of the UK shows (like that of the 11 profitable but no-growth B2B magazines for less than 4x EBITDA in 2017) is expected to dilute its profits a bit. Investors will be fine with the short-term impact of such strategic purity – providing Ascential is able to use the cash to buy attractive new businesses and to sustain its rapid growth from: the soaring Money 20/20 and the slightly wobbly Cannes Lions festivals, global information group WGSN, newish e-commerce, and the hazy MediaLink consultancy. No pressure.
News. The New York-based New Media Investment Group Inc is acquiring the 68k-circulation Akron Beacon Journal and its ohio. com web site from Black Press. The $16m price is less than 10% of what the Canadian group paid for the 180-year-old daily newspaper back in 2006. In a separate transaction, New Media has also agreed to sell its Alaska newspapers to Black Press. New Media (and its immediate parent Gatehouse Media) has spent some $1bn in five years investing in local media, digital and marketing businesses. It currently publishes 144 daily newspapers and 333 weeklies with an aggregate circulation of almost 4m, and may now be the largest local media group in the US. It has, notably, grown EBITDA profit by an average of 20% over the five years since its financial reconstruction, and its revenue is now 56% digital. The scale of ambition, investment and apparent success makes New Media a role model for other markets with potentially under-valued newspapers. Is anyone in the UK watching?
News. WordStream is a Saas provider which helps clients and agencies to optimize digital marketing campaigns. The purchase price is $130m in cash plus up to $20m on earnout payable in 2019 and 2020. The transaction builds upon Gannett’s existing digital marketing services, ReachLocal and SweetIQ. In the first year, WordStream is forecast to generate some $55m revenue and $16m of EBITDA profit.
B2C Digital. The sale of Zoopla will land the UK’s £1.5bn-revenue Daily Mail group DMGT with a £642m windfall for cashing out of online property portals. This may yet flush out a counter-bid with Axel Springer looking like a potential alternative. The US private equity firm SilverLake had earlier this year acquired EDR from DMGT, with the provider of real estate date and software priced at $205m. Having successfully earlier sold out of jobs classifieds and reduced its holdings in Euromoney – all fruits of a successful history as a portfolio investor – DMGT has given up trying to sell Metro, its past-the-peak free daily. But when will the cashed-up news group stop selling and start buying? That’s, of course, when the high prices will bite back. DMGT is thought to have been an under-bidder both for the £300m Ascential UK exhibitions, just won by ITE, and for the $300m US-based PennWell B2B group acquired recently by Clarion. Could it next do something audacious and bid for one or two UK public companies: the tech-savvy B2C Future? Or the expansive B2B Wilmington, chaired by Martin Morgan, DMGT’s former CEO? DMGT could buy both and still get change from the Zoopla pay-out.
Broadcast-streaming. Axel Springer has accelerated the sale of its 7% in Turkey’s Dogan TV. The German media group is among the last independent companies to hold stakes in Turkish media after business allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gained control of about 90% of the television and newspaper market.
Broadcast-streaming. Mediawan is the Paris-based parent of the €160m-revenue Groupe AB which has a portfolio of 19 channels in French-speaking Europe and Africa. Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam’s ON Entertainment is a European producer of animated content for children and families via broadcast, movies and digital (including The Little Prince, and Miraculous Ladybug). Price was earlier rumoured to be €100m.
B2B information. The Atlanta-based lead-generation company List Partners (owned by Northlane Capital) has expanded its Wimno platform (claimed to be the leading B2B sales intelligence provider for the US advertising industry) by acquiring two media databases: Access Confidential and Redbooks.
B2B information. Reed Tech, part of RELX’s LexisNexis, has acquired the 10-year-old PatentSight GmbH. The German company evaluates worldwide patents using its Patent Asset Index, which helps identify high-value patents from less important ones. In addition, patent portfolios of competitors, suppliers, customers, areas of technology and new market entrants can be analyzed to identify opportunities and threats.
STM. Weak investor demand forced Springer Nature – the publisher of science magazines, technical and medical books and journals including Nature, Scientific American and the BioMed Central series – to cancel its planned 9 May IPO in Frankfurt at virtually the last minute. Although many of its venerable brands and publishing imprints are more than a century old, Springer Nature was formed in 2015 by the merger of the Holtzbrinck-owned Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan and Macmillan Education with Springer Science+Business Media (owned by private equity group BC Partners). Holtzbrinck and BC own 53:47 respectively of the €3bn group. Springer Nature, which claims to be the world’s largest English language academic book publisher with 13,000 new publications every year, last year reported EBITDA profit of €551m on revenues of €1.64bn. This week’s IPO had been intended to pay-down some of the company’s €3bn of debt and help BC Partners to sell down its shareholding to less than 20%. It is, therefore, believed that the alternative option of a share-sale to additional private equity or to trade buyers is now being explored. Some insiders have hinted, however, that a new IPO may instead be planned in London.
STM. The 17-year-old, UK-based independent publisher Future Science Group (FSG) has acquired from Informa Plc the peer-reviewed, open access journal BioTechnique on life science research. Terms not disclosed. FSG publishes e-books, journals and “specialist knowledge networks and content hubs, enabling professionals to easily connect and collaborate in niche scientific fields”.
STM. The Swiss-based, family-owned Karger Publishers has acquired the UK-based information service Health Press Ltd to strengthen its clinical decision support services. Terms not disclosed. Karger is a globally active medical and scientific publishing company publishes across all fields of medical science, with 50 new books per year and 105 peer-reviewed journals with a growing number of open access publications. Its content is published in print and online, predominantly in English. Health Press was founded in 1993 “to promote health through communication with a global network of medical practitioners and patients”.
Broadcast-streaming. The New York-based independent content production company CreativeDrive will combine its network of more than 150 studios in the US, Latin America, Asia and Europe with Zebra’s portfolio of video and content production and localisation offices across London, Paris, Cape Town, Kiev and Sydney to become one of the largest global studio networks. Zebra Worldwide was founded in 2005.
Broadcast-streaming. The purchase of stations in key NFL markets, such as Denver, Miami and Seattle, comes after the Murdoch family-controlled 21st Century Fox’s $52.4bn December agreement to sell the company (minus Fox News and Fox Sports) to Disney. That deal has been disrupted by Comcast’s bid for Fox’s 39% European subsidiary Sky TV. Investors expect either that Disney will bid directly for Sky (with the support of Fox) or that Disney will cede Sky to Comcast and carve it out of its bid for 21st Century Fox. Fox currently owns 28 US TV stations in 17 regional markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington and Houston.
B2B information. The California-based Glassdoor is a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management. Launched in 2008, it is one of the largest job sites in the US with 59m monthly visitors. It has data on more than 770,000 companies located in more than 190 countries. Glassdoor was created when its two founders discussed how one of them, while working at Expedia, accidentally left the confidential results of its employee survey on an office printer. They realised that such information could help inform people making career decisions. For a decade, it has been the site that (probably) your prospective employees have visited to see what their future colleagues say about the company. Isn’t it just the kind of service you might expect to be cloned by single-sector B2B media? The Tokyo-listed $2bn-revenue Recruit Holdings started in 1960 focused on recruitment advertising for university students. Now, with 50% of its revenues generated from outside Japan, Recruit is the owner of Indeed, probably the world’s largest job aggregator and job search engine, which it acquired in 2012. Will the future see any kind of mergers or collaboration with the growing digital classifieds of news-centric groups Naspers, Axel Springer and Schibsted?
B2B information. LA-based PE firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners has partnered with the management to acquire Best Lawyers, the global digital and print information service. The Aiken, South Carolina- based, 37-year-old Best Lawyers claims to be the oldest peer review publication in the global legal community with its brands: Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms and the Lawyer Directory. This year’s twenty-fourth edition of The Best Lawyers in America, for example, includes 58,507 attorneys in 145 practice areas, and is based on more than 7.4m evaluations of lawyers by their peers. The company’s listings are now published in more than 70 countries around the world with an estimated audience of 22m. It also has partnerships with New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and also Les Echos in France, the Australian Financial Review, Business Day in South Africa, and Handelsblatt in Germany.
News. Press Association(PA), the UK’s national news agency and media content provider, has acquired 95% of EBS. The company provides electronic programme guide (EPG) data for platforms and channels worldwide, including BBC, BT, Viceland, AMC and Discovery. PA, which has an option eventually to acquire the remaining 5%, this month celebrates the 150th anniversary of its creation in 1868 by a group of UK regional newspaper proprietors. It remains a solidly-profitable private company delivering a continuous content feed of text, images, video and data into newsrooms throughout the UK. In recent years, the £60m-revenue company has successfully diversified from its core news business through the acquisition of: Globelynx (a self-operated camera network which enables executives and academics to be interviewed live on TV from their own offices), and the agencies TNR (PR), Sticky Content (digital), and StreamAMG (video streaming). The EBS acquisition continues a strategy which has been producing better financial results than those of many of PA’s embattled newspaper-owning shareholders, with 10% operating profit margins. Happy 150th Birthday.
Broadcast-streaming. The Atlanta-based listed broadcaster Gray Television, Inc. will acquire KDLT-TV from the South Dakota-based Red River Broadcasting Company. Gray says the deal is forecast to be immediately profit-accretive) and the deal is subject to regulatory approval. Given that bullish forecast, it has to be assumed that at least one reason for the KDLT divestment was the expense of its 2016-built state-of-the-art headquarters in Sioux Falls – which includes enough spare space for a second television station.
Broadcast-streaming. The Canada-based publicly-listed Kew Media (formerly known as Content Media Corporation) produces and distributes TV and digital content worldwide though its companies including Awesome Media & Entertainment, Bristow Global Media and Sienna Films. The group claims to produce and distribute more than 1,000 hours of new content every year. EQ Media was a combination of Essential Media and Quail Entertainment which have offices in Australia and the US. Recent productions have been Texas Flip ‘n Move, Restored, Mom and Me, Holiday Cookie Builds, and Find My Family. Its clients include all all the Australian pay and free-to-air TV channels, Cooking CHannel, Discovery, BBC, PBS, History Channel, and National Geographic.
Events. Electricx is Egypt’s leading energy and power exhibition. The publicly-listed UK-based Informa is currently acquiring the UK-listed UBM to become either the largest or second largest global exhibitions company. It is assumed that Informa will eventually divest its various information businesses especially in STM publishing – not least to prepare for its next round of events acquisitions. in the UK or US. This is already becoming the biggest year for exhibition deals and these have yet to include the long-awaited divestment by RELX of its market-leading Reed Expo business. Surely, coming soon.
Magazine-media. The UK-based Future acquires specialist consumer titles What Hi-Fi?, FourFourTwo, Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome from the UK privately-owned Haymarket Media Group which has been streamlining its portfolio following the company’s financial rehabilitation (substantial borrowings being all but paid-off through property divestments). Following initial discussions with the UK competition regulator, Future decided not to pursue the acquisition of Stuff magazine (which competes directly with Future’s T3). The consideration was consequently reduced to <£13m. The four magazine-digital brands generated revenue of £9.6m in the year to June 2017. The deal is the latest of a series of recent transactions by Future across the range of magazines, digital services, events and e-commerce in Australia, the UK and US.
B2B information. The Connecticut-based Professional Media Group specialises in information and events for US school leadership. In addition to the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) and EducationDaily.com, LRP’s portfolio now includes: District Administration, UBTech, University Business, and the Higher Education Leadership Summits. Founded in 1977 by CEO and president Kenneth Kahn, the Florida-based $70m-revenue LRP serves business and education professionals worldwide. Specializing in education management, HR, and disability through magazines, books, newsletters, videos and digital resources. It also operates 13 conferences and trade shows in China, Singapore and the US. Transaction terms not disclosed.
Books. London-based IBT has a publishing list in Middle East Studies, History, Politics and International Relations. Bloomsbury is the UK-based publicly listed publisher of Harry Potter and so much else across fiction, education, and academia. The 32-year-old company, still managed by its founder Nigel Newton, has a market capitalisation of some £130m.
B2B information. Workforce Surveys & Analytics (“WS&A”) is a leading tech-enabled survey and analytics platform.
Broadcast-streaming. TVA is the Canadian media group which operates the country’s largest French-language TV network. Its range of channels are estimated to have a c70% share of TV revenue in the French-speaking Canadian market. The company is controlled by the listed Quebecor Inc. Serdy is a Quebec-based independent broadcaster and TV production company whose Its channels include Évasion (travel and adventure) and Zeste (food). The deal is subject to regulatory approval.
Magazine-media. Lagardère, once the world’s largest magazine publisher, is finalising a deal with Czech Media Invest to sell most of its French magazines including the legendary 73-year-old Elle, Elle Deco, Version Femina, Art & Decoration, Tele 7 Jours (France’s bestselling TV guide), France Dimanche, Ici Paris and Public. The estimated €100m deal is expected to exclude Paris Match magazine. Many of the Elle international editions outside France are published by Hearst Corp which, in 2011, paid a top-of-the-market $651m for 102 Lagardere magazines in 15 countries. Czech Media Invest is publisher of the Czech Republic’s top-selling tabloid Blesk, three other daily papers and several magazines. It recently agreed also to buy Lagardère’s East European radio stations for €73m. After its exit from magazines, Lagardère’s core business will largely comprise broadcasting, books, retail and travel. It is 30 years ago this month that two major US acquisitions by Lagardère’s Hachette subsidiary made it the world magazine leader, then with 72 magazines in 10 countries.
B2C digital. Springer has sold its 78.4% stake in the 19-year-old Paris-based digital media group Aufeminin which operates in 21 countries with brands including Netmums and Womenology. The €291.5m price paid by the French TV channel TF1 is reported to correspond to 15 x the 2017 EBITDA profit. Axel Springer said it sold the stake because the company had moved away from its own core areas of content and classifieds. But, maybe, that’s just code for feeling compelled to accept a very good price that can be invested in Springer’s fast-growing digital classifieds which now account for some 65% of its EBITDA profit.
Magazine-media. Hearst Magazines has acquired a minority but highly-strategic stake in Gear Patrol, a “men’s enthusiast print and digital publication, store and content studio”. The 11-year-old, New York-based company, which covers a wide range of gadgets, bikes, cars, watches, and sports product, is profitable and claims a monthly audience of 2m. It makes nearly 25% of its estimated $4-5m revenue from e-commerce, by linking readers to products on retail websites including Amazon. It also sells advertising, content marketing and operates events. It will now collaborate with the male-oriented Hearst brands Runner’s World, Men’s Health and Bicycling (acquired last year from Rodale) and, presumably, also Esquire, Car & Driver, and Road & Track. Less than 10% of Hearst Magazines’ digital revenue comes from e-commerce but the total is said to have more than doubled during 2018. Hearst did not disclose the financial terms of the deal which is understood to include an eventual option to acquire the whole company.
B2C Digital. Boston-based adtech company BuySellAds has bought the assets of the content aggregator Digg, once seen as a direct competitor to Reddit. Founded in 2004, Digg had amassed 30m monthly uniques within five years when it reportedly rejected a $200m offer from Google. By 2012, traffic had slumped to 1.5m and the business was sold for a mere $500k. Now, it has been bought, for a nominal sum, by BuySellAds, a 10-year-old company which builds advertising technology used by more than 1,200 independent publishers around the world.
Broadcast-streaming. Europe’s Sky TV has withdrawn its recommendation for 21st Century Fox’s £18.5bn offer after Comcast tabled a £22bn all cash offer. Comcast’s offer £12.50 per share bid is at a 16% premium to the £10.75 offer by Fox has a 39% shareholding in Sky. It is not known how a successful bid by Comcast would affect Disney’s $60bn for 21st Century Fox (less Fox News and Fox Sports). That bid has already been complicated by the protracted and regulatory review into Fox’s bid for Sky – because of the Murdoch family’s large shareholding both in Sky and News Corp, the UK’s largest national daily newspaper publisher. Tough to call, but will Disney make a separate, higher bid for Sky – with the support of Fox’s 39%? And how would that impact the Disney bid to acquire 21st Century Fox?
Broadcast-streaming. To obtain regulatory approval following its $3.9bn acquisition of Tribune Media, Sinclair – the owner of the largest number of US TV stations – is selling nine stations to Standard Media Group for $441.7m in cash, and KPLR-11 in St. Louis to Meredith Corp for $65m. In addition, three stations are being sold to Howard Stirk and two to Cunningham Media. The buyer for the remaining seven stations is yet to be named.
Events. UK-based Informa Plc (now acquiring UBM to become one of the world’s two largest exhibitions organisers. Reed is the other) has acquired the Egypt-based shows: MediConex, PharmaConex and Africa Food Manufacturing from Arab African Conferences and Exhibitions; and Electricx, Solar-Tec and Mefsec from Egytec Engineering. Terms not disclosed.
Events. UBM (itself being acquired by Informa Plc) becomes the owner of Metaltech, Malaysia’s annual manufacturing process exhibition. The seller ITE is a £400m quoted UK company which organises more than 200 exhibitions worldwide, with a strong (and currently challenging) presence in Russia, Central Asia and Turkey. Consolidation in global exhibitions (large and small) keeps coming. What will happen to wobbling UK listed company ITE?
Events. The US privately-owned Diversified Communications Inc has agreed to sell its trade shows Restaurant & Bar Hong Kong , Natural & Organic Products Asia, and Retail Asia Expo to the UK-based UBM which is itself is being acquired by Informa Plc. No terms have been disclosed. Diversified owns some 50 brands, operates more than 150 events and employs some 650 people around the world, principally in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. It also has publishing and digital services. In December, it acquired Mumbrella, the Sydney-based group of fast-growing media-marketing information services and events.
Broadcast-streaming. UK and US based independent TV and theatre production company DLT Entertainment has acquired UK-based producer Vera Productions (Bremner, Bird & Fortune, and Dispatches). Terms not disclosed.
B2B information. The £115m-revenue, Leeds UK-based Call Credit, like the publicly-listed US-based TransUnion, provides data, analytics and technology solutions to help businesses and consumers make informed credit decisions. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.
NewPoint Media Group (owned by Lion Equity Partners) is one of the largest US publishers of regional homes magazines including: Homes & Land, The Real Estate Book, Estates & Homes, New Home Guide, and Senior Living Choices. It operates a US national network of over 200 independent publishers which are embedded in their local real estate markets. Undisclosed price.
News. Tronc publishes the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News and the Orlando Sentinel. Michael Ferro is known for founding software company Click Commerce and the Chicago-based private equity firm Merrick Ventures. Two years ago, he became chairman and largest shareholder of Tronc (then called Tribune Publishing), after buying the 24.5% stake for a mere $44m. In February this year, Tronc sold The Los Angeles Times to a local biotech billionnaire for a toppy $500m – twice what Jeff Bezos had paid for the similar-sized Washington Post in 2013. Ferro stepped down last month just before the publication of a Fortune magazine allegation of sexual scandal at Tronc. His exit has provoked more reports of impending bids for the whole company from SoftBank, Gannett Co., and Apollo Global Management. SoftBank last year bought the Gatehouse newspaper chain. Gannett had made an unsuccessful bid to buy Tronc in 2016, eight years after it had filed for bankruptcy. Observers of the US sales of newspapers as trophy assets are wondering how long it will be before the same happens in the UK where venerable news brands like The Scotsman and the Daily Telegraph have disappointed their long-term owners.
B2B information. The privately-owned DeriveXperts provides valuation services for OTC and other complex financial securities. Terms of transaction not disclosed. IHS Markit is the $20bn, London-based, Nasdaq-listed global provider of information, analytics and solutions to companies in technology, finance, transportation, energy, automotive, agriculture and government. Its brands include: Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Carfax, RootMetrics, Infonetics, Petrodata, McCloskey Coal Report, Fairplay, OPIS, and Global Insight.
Events. Shareholders of the UK-based UBM and Informa exhibitions-led companies have approved the £3.9bn bid, to create what is believed to be the world’s second largest event organiser. Informa, in fact, claims that the combined £2.8bn-revenue group will be the market leader, with 24 of the top 250 exhibitions in the US and 150 brands globally. Next up in UK-based exhibitions companies is the auction by Ascential (owner of Cannes Lions and Money 20/20) of its once core retail trade shows including The International Spring Fair, which may fetch £300m. A juicy auction price could well encourage RELX finally to sell-off its distinctly non-core but market-leading Reed Exhibitions which has 500 events per year in 30 countries, with revenue split 40:40:20 between Europe, rest of the world, and the US. Despite 6% revenue growth in 2017, Reed Exhibitions’ 2% profit growth was the lowest of all RELX’s B2B, STM and legal operations. It’s almost the perfect time for a sell-off by RELX which recently splashed £580m on ThreatMatrix, its largest data acquisition for a decade. Expect the largest US-based exhibitions organiser, the publicly-listed Emerald Expositions (55 trade shows), and the increasingly-international Blackstone-owned Clarion Events to be sharpening their pencils. This could become a momentous year for deals in exhibitions, the (so far) undisrupted and uninterrupted highlight of B2B media everywhere.
B2B information. 28-year-old FEA provides risk, pricing and valuation tools to energy and commodity markets. Texas-based Allegro is leading global supplier of commodities management software. Terms undisclosed.
Events. Bolsters the Essex, UK-based, £30m-revenue Media 10 (founder-CEO Lee Newton) in UK specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines/events.
B2B information. EMI provides specialized education, data + training services to oil majors, power, natural gas marketers, utilities, and investment banks. (DTN was last year acquired by Swiss-based TBG for $900m). Terms undisclosed.
B2B information. Peer-to-peer coaching Vistage (recently bought by Providence private equity for $500m) extends its UK community” to over 100 Chairs and 1,800 members. Terms undisclosed.
B2C digital. To be absorbed into Recruit Holdings’ world-leader Tokyo-based Indeed jobs search engine ($17bn revenue in 2016 – 40% ex-Japan). Terms undisclosed.
Events. Blackstone p.e.-owned, London-based Clarion (now responsible for 180 exhibitions and conferences in more than 50 countries) extends its global footprint by acquiring the family-owned, Oklahoma-based Pennwell ($170m revenue) whose portfolio of events and media includes the Power-Gen series. Penwell started out more than 100 years ago with the launch of Oil & Gas Journal, which is still published weekly alongside 150 other print and online magazines, web services and newsletters, and 25 exhibitions and conferences. The acquisition almost doubles the Clarion turnover to some £300m. Is Blackstone limbering up for global leadership with a bid for Reed Exhibitions (RELX)?
Magazine-media. Expands UK-based Future Plc’s reach in US music and consumer electronics media. But the price looks a bit like a rescue by the hyper-active tech-savvy listed company which is rumoured to be chasing a swag of specialist magazines from the sprawling (now private equity-owned) Time Inc UK and – bit of a stretch – some or all of Dennis Publishing. Future, which was founded in 1985 by TED leader Chris Anderson, is riding high with a market capitalisation of £190m. Expect more deals in the US, UK and Australia.
B2C digital. Universum was founded in 1988 and now serves around 2,000 clients in more than 35 countries.
Broadcast-streaming. CBS and Viacom “special committees” to explore the merger in February, a move to reunite the companies split by controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone more than a decade ago. US broadcast-cable-movie tectonic plates are shifting. Many things can upset this one move including the mooted TimeWarner-AT&T merger, Disney’s agreed deal to acquire most of 21st Century Fox, Comcast’s hostile bid for Europe’s Sky TV (part-owned by Fox) and who’s know what else?
News. Acquisitive GateHouse continues to add to its newspaper portfolio from this sale by Cox Media
B2B information. Research Views is a portal for Oil & Gas and Power news and analysis and in FY17 generated pro forma revenues of £27m and EBITDA of £2.1m. (Research Views controlled by GlobalData CEO Mike Danson, ex-owner of Datamonitor)
B2C digital. As a white-label provider, Decision Tech home communications sits behind several of the UK’s comparison sites. It made £3.6m ebitda in the y/e March 18
B2B information. Prominent UK economist Roger Bootle (founder and chair) retains “significant stake” in 19-year-old financial research and consulting company with offices in UK, US, Canada, Australia and Singapore
B2B information. Acquired unit will become EMC K.K., as part of Omnicom’s “world’s largest” healthcare marcomms group. Terms undisclosed.
B2B information. Mid market PE firm takes significant stake in legal discovery tech company CloudNine, and jointly acquires eDiscovery including the LAW PreDiscovery, Early Discovery Analyzer (EDA), and Concordance products. Terms undisclosed.
B2C digital. Springer – Europe’s leading digital media group – may be keen to acquire £880m, six-year-old UK listed co. Purple Bricks eventually, esp. after further expansion in US. (Springer already owns real estate digitals in Germany and France).
B2B information. Utah based Smart Rhino Labs provides recruitment services to the trucking industry. Alabama-based Randall-Reilly is a tech-smart, family-owned B2B media co, principally in transport + construction data + events
News. Denver-based, p.e.-backed Digital First Media won the 64k-circ Boston Herald after beating rival Gatehouse Media in bankruptcy auction
Magazine-media. Brands are: What HiFi?; FourFourTwo; Stuff; Practical Caravan; and Practical Motorhome. UK mag-media realignment: Haymarket raises useful cash and Future continues diversification spree. Next up is an expected sell-off of similar-ish mags by Time Inc UK…
Events. Ascential to sell its traditional exhibitions (International Spring Fair etc) to focus on digital and its festival business. Emerald, RELX, DMGT, and Informa will be lining up. MBO possible too.
B2B Information. Cerico provides end-to-end Know Your Business Partner technology and digital compliance tools. Terms undiclosed.
B2B information. UK based ClearScore matches individuals to personal financial products, offering free credit reports, scores and personal financial education, both online and through mobile devices.
Magazine-media. Meredith has appointed advisers to sell legendary mags following its $1.84m purchase of Time Inc. Bidders might be able to tempt Meredith to sell even more of ex-Time Inc brands. Bidding war for Time mag etc could make Meredith look very smart.
B2B information. DMGT continues its slim-down by selling its US real estate information business to private equity
B2C digital. Texture, Next Issue Media’s “Netflix of magazines”, gives users unlimited access to favourite titles for monthly subscription fee. Bit like Apple Music…
Broadcast production. Israeli Keshet International, producer of Homeland and the A Team, invests in UK production incubator Greenbird – including taking over BBC’s 30% stake
B2C digital. RealSport’s platform includes news documentaries, podcasts and opinion
Broadcast-streaming. SkyHigh TV is Netherlands’ largest indie TV producer
B2C digital. 15-year-old privately-owned, highly-acquisitive Penske is increasingly global. It owns Variety, Women’s Wear Daily, Deadline, Robb Report, Rolling Stone and, now, the SheKnows network of fem-food-fashion sites and BlogHer conferences. It has also just bagged a $200m investment from a Saudi fund. Jay Penske still owns 60%, but is he limbering up to IPO in 2019?
News. Sale by Atlanta-based Cox (mainly broadcast and digital now) includes Austin Communities Newspaper group and Spanish language weekly newspaper Ahora Si
Broadcast-streaming. News Corp finally gets control (75%) of Foxtel after decades of being a minority partner to Aussie telco Telstra (now 25%). Note that all Murdoch news, TV, digital and publishing assets in Australia are owned by News Corp not 21st Century Fox.
B2B information. Last year, over 15,500 investment professionals cast 1.1m votes, providing an “unparalleled dataset to help clients analyse and drive their market understanding”. Will be integrated into Euromoney’s research business. After the sale of Dealogic, it still has over £200m cash so expect more deals.
B2b information. Kensho is provider of analytics, A1, machine learning, and data visualization systems to global banks, investment institutions, and ‘National Security community’
B2C digital. Google bought the legendary Zagat restaurant guides for $151m in 2011, to become an online hub for restaurants as part of Google Maps. But has lost out to Citymapper and others. Now all but given away to start-up The Infatuation.
B2C digital. 21-year-old Aussie listed Asia-wide employment classifieds co is paying $157m for News Corp’s 13.75% stake in Seek Asia.
B2B information. Firecracker will become part of the Health Learning, Research & Practice group, which produces Lippincott medical education and practice content
Events. UBM Brazil expansion, just as parent company is being acquired by UK-based rival Informa Plc. UBM has other renewable energy events in India, S.E. Asia, US, Mexico and Argentina. Terms undisclosed.
Magazine-media. 40k subs bi-monthly, part of slim-down plan by Australia’s largest mag publisher. Blue Ant is a privately-owned, international natural history broadcaster and digital production company
Broadcast-streaming. At £12.50 per share, significantly ahead of offer (still subject to UK regulatory approval) by 21st Century Fox offer which had accepted a $60bn for itself (less Fox News and Fox Sports). Everything now up in the air. But Disney / Fox may bid higher for Sky (24m subscribers in UK, Germany and Italy). Perils for Rupert Murdoch (creator of Sky TV) of controlling a listed company with ‘only’ 39% shareholding?
B2B information. 30-year-old privately-owned UK co is “leading supplier of international construction info”: publishing, online, and exhibitions.
Events. Portfolio includes UK’s biggest games event EGX and network has 50m users. Will data group RELX sell its global exhibitions company in 2018?
Magazine-media. Former IPC Media has 50 brands (many unprofitable), 30m reader-users but declining revenues of £240m. What brands will be sold off in the streamlining? Will Epiris really also bid for the privately-owned Dennis Publishing, as rumoured?
B2B information. Hearst now owns 100% of Fitch, the financial information and credit ratings company, with operations in 30 countries. It bought its first 20% stake in Fitch from Fimalac, of France, in 2006 for $592m, and spent another $2.6bn increasing its holding to 80% during 2009-14. Fitch has diversified in recent years, and now derives more than 20% of revenues from data services unrelated to its core ratings business, where it competes with the larger Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Fitch is (by far) Hearst’s largest business and B2B information is its most profitable division, far ahead of magazines and newspapers. Hearst Corp’s new-ish president and CEO Steve Swartz (an ex-financial journalist) has been concentrating his acquisition firepower on B2B and seems set to continue. When will Hearst join the global race in B2B exhibitions, perhaps starting in the UK?
B2B information. Adds neighbourhood data to Attom’s 155m database
Events. Buyer SME organises London Fashion Week.
Events. Adds UK’s largest ‘tackle’ event (20k annual visitors) to Bauer’s strong angling magazines, events and digital.
Events. Acquisition of watch and wellbeing events marks diversification for Hearst’s magazine-dependant UK portfolio. Expect more Hearst event deals. Did it want Haymarket’s Clothes Show (above)? Will it chase Ascential’s for-sale International Spring and Autumn Fairs?
Broadcast-streaming. Jax makes “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee”, “Search Party,” “Broad City”, “Inside Amy Schumer,” and “Roseanne”
B2B information. Adds to S&P’s ratings for capital + commodities transactional data covering in excess of 35% of global trade flows
Events. Creates world’s second largest trade show company (Reed is clear no.1). Will Informa sell its STM publishing: to RELX, Wiley, or Thomson Reuters?
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