BUYER: Incisive Media
SELLER: Wasserstein & Co.
PRICE: $630 million
DATE: July 2007
TAKEAWAY: If ALM and Incisive can avoid the typically frosty relationship that develops between U.S. publishers and British parent companies, this move could propel ALM into being one of the new b-to-b multimedia powerhouses both in the U.S. and abroad.
The March 2007 announcement by Wasserstein & Co. that it was finally putting New York City-based legal publisher ALM on the block set the M&A market buzzing.
The move came shortly after Wasserstein merged Prism Business Media with Penton Media in January 2007.
With more than $200 million in estimated revenue and $50 million in EBITDA, ALM had been a solid performer, even through the recession. The company published 34 national and regional magazines and expanded beyond the legal market with the acquisition of Real Estate Media in 2005.
A choice asset, the market expected ALM to command a premium. The eventual winner, London-based Incisive Media, had actually approached ALM back in 2000 for a potential acquisition which didn’t happen.
The sale price for the company was on target with early estimates that had been downgraded from an initial $750 million asking price, sources say. Still, the deal was one of the largest b-to-b transactions in the last three years, placing it among an elite group including VNU/Nielsen ($10 billion), Advanstar ($1.1 billion), Hanley Wood ($650 million), Penton ($530 million) and Primedia Business ($385 million).
Incisive, a $280 million b-to-b media company serving the financial services, risk management and marketing services markets, was involved in a $550 million management buyout in late 2006, led by group chief executive Tim Weller and backed by private equity firm Apax Partners. Incisive has also been building a b-to-b juggernaut in Europe with the acquisition of VNU’s b-to-b properties and is one of the front-runners to acquire Emap’s b-to-b products. The company has also been ramping up its online offerings, including the acquisition of ClickZ Network and Search Engine Watch.
The ALM acquisition effectively doubled Incisive’s revenue and gave it a platform to expand its presence in the U.S. ALM management has remained in place so far, with ALM CEO Bill Pollak joining the Incisive board and overseeing the company’s legal publishing in the U.K. With solid print and event products in place, the emphasis will be to build out ALM’s online and digital information offerings.
COMMENTS: “This is a good fit for Incisive. The sale price is a bit below what ALM thought they’d get in the beginning by about $100 million but now they can take the products internationa l… That’s going to give ALM the international expansion it needs. A ood strategic fit for a strategic buyer. ncisive is a good buyer."
OTHER TOP DEALS:
Ziff Davis Enterprise
Clarity Partners/Modern Luxury
Summit Business Media/Wicks Business Information