Magazines. The privately-owned Enthuse spec pub group, of the UK, has acquired a 50.1% stake in Shield Wall Media LLC. The Wisconsin-based company was formed to acquire the construction trade magazines formerly owned by the bankrupt F+W Media including: Rural Builder, Frame Building News, Metal Roofing, Rollforming, and the Construction Rollforming Show (launching in Cincinnati in December). The minority shareholder and managing director of Shield Wall Media is Gary Reichert, former publisher of the group at F+W.
Reichert outbid Cruz Bay Publishing Inc, of California, which had also lost out to Macanta Investments’ $4.2m bid for F+W’s largest divisions in arts and crafts. In the event, Cruz Bay successfully acquired Popular Woodworking (out-bidding Meredith Corp. with a $1m offer), Writer’s Digest for $200k (out-bidding Madavor Media), Family Tree ($100k), Horticulture Magazine ($75k), and F+W’s collectibles magazines group ($350k).
While the prices paid by Reichert and Enthuse have not been disclosed, Shield Wall’s valuation is believed to be less than $400k. The share purchase is the latest in a series of bolt-on deals and investments by Enthuse which was formerly My Time Media. It now owns over 30 specialist magazines, digital and events brands across photography, AV, crafts, fishing, and philately, in the UK and US.
This latest investment follows its purchase of a 51% shareholding in the £17m-revenue AA Media Ltd, which provides inspection and rating services to accommodation providers and restaurants across Britain under The AA and VisitEngland brands.
Enthuse Holdings Ltd is majority-owned by chairman and CEO Owen Davies who has built the business after a senior executive career variously with the Daily Mail Group and Highbury House. His co-shareholder is Chrysalis Venture Capital Trust. In 2018, Enthuse had revenue of £10.5m – up 75% on the previous year – with EBITDA of £1.34m (300% up). Some 23% of the revenue came from subscriptions, 24% from non-print, and 28% from outside the UK.
It is assumed that the enlarged group will now have annualised revenues of almost £20m. Davies has a growing reputation as a smart buyer and low-cost operator of under-wanted assets in specialist markets. But his major test may be the development of a digital strategy, which would drive the success of any future sale or IPO of Enthuse. One to watch.