The UK’s acquisitive Mark Allen Group (MAG) has negotiated £18m of borrowings from HSBC to fund further deals. This is believed to be the first time the privately-owned publishing and exhibitions company has used debt to finance its growth. The continuing low interest rates (and an erratic stockmarket) in the UK may have persuaded the company to abandon rumoured plans for an IPO and, instead, to borrow.
Some 40% of the debt has been used on the acquisition of Centaur’s engineering portfolio and 12 international transport brands from UKi Media. Much of the rest may be earmarked for the 85-year-old, 44,000-circulation Farmers Weekly from chairman Mark Allen’s one-time employer Reed Business Information, rumoured to be for sale as a remnant of RBI’s trade magazine past. MAG currently has strong information and events in three main B2B groupings: Health, Education and Social Care; Engineering; and Music.
It is expected to achieve almost £60m of revenue (and more than £10m of EBITDA) in 2019-20 – doubled in four years. Up to 40% of the revenue comes from exhibitions (all acquired or launched in the last seven years). The UKi deal is expected to prompt further MAG expansion in international markets. Way to go.