February 25
Buyer: Arlington Capital Partners
Seller: Virgo Publishing
Sale Price: <$100 mil. est.
Multiple: N/A

The deal behind the deal: After months of speculation over a potential sale of Virgo Publishing, private equity firm Arlington Capital Partners has stepped up as the suitor. Media investment firm DeSilva + Phillips brokered the deal.

Phoenix-based Virgo publishes 17 magazines and produces 10 events. With approximately $50 million in revenue, Virgo was acquired by Seaport Capital in December 2004. Virgo was founded in 1986 and serves niche business sectors, with magazines including Billing & OSS World, Corporate Logo, Professional Door Dealer and New Telephony.

Arlington Capital Partners is a Washington, D.C.-based middle market private equity firm that invests primarily in U.S.-based companies with values between $50 and $100 million.

Our panel says: “Virgo has had good financial performance over the last few years. Investing in b-to-b is still attractive to private equity players. I think this deal is testimony to the strengths of b-to-b media.”

March 6
Buyer: ALM
Seller: Altman Weil Publications
Sale Price: <$20 mil. est.
Multiple: N/A

The deal behind the deal:
Legal and business publisher ALM acquired Newton Square, Pennsylvania-based Altman Weil Publications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 34-year-old Altman Weil publishes surveys “focusing on the economics and management of law firms,” including the Survey of Law Firm Economics, which provides economic performance data on private U.S. law firms.

According to the deal, Altman Weil will become part of ALM Research, which produces subscription legal market intelligence database ALM Research Online and a number of syndicated survey reports, including the annual Law Firm Business Development survey.

ALM is owned by Incisive Media.

Our panel says: “It’s logical. The Altman Weil surveys that get behind the economics of U.S. law firms will add another valuable product tha ALM can sell to its large database of lawyers, law firms and suppliers to law firms.”

March 11
Buyer: EBSCO
Hallmark Data Systems
Sale Price: N/A
Multiple: N/A

The deal behind the deal:
Circulation fulfillment provider Hallmark Data Systems has been sold to EBSCO, the world’s largest full-service subscription agency. The Jordan, Edmiston Group represented Hallmark in the deal.

Skokie, Illinois-based Hallmark is 40 years old and services over 400 titles. Prior to the deal, Hallmark was owned by Tinicum Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm. Tinicum purchased Hallmark in 2003 from SourceLink.

Tinicum also owned Palm Coast Data before selling it to Allied Capital in 2005, which then sold it to Kable Media services in January 2007 for $92 million.

Our panel says: “This has the potential of being a better situation for Hallmark than it had with its two previous owners. EBSCO isn’t private equity and has synergy with Hallmark. It’s a good match especially if EBSCO is coming at this with plans to invest and move the fulfillment industry forward to match its needs on the Web.”

March 18
Buyer: Bessemer Venture Partners
Seller: Ziff Davis Enterprises
Sale Price: $20 mil. stake
Multiple: N/A

The deal behind the deal: Joining Insight Venture Partners as part owners in Ziff Davis Enterprise, global investment group Bessemer Venture Partners ponied up $20 million in funding for the b-to-b publisher.

According to ZDE CEO Steve Weitzner, the funding will “significantly accelerate the pace at which we can innovate and grow to best meet the challenging needs of our subscriber and b-to-b technology marketer client communities.” ZDE hopes the funding will help fuel acquisitions and further develop its initiatives in audience development, social media and contextual content.

ZDE was acquired from Ziff Davis Media last June by Insight Venture Partners for $150 million.

Our panel says: “It’s early still, but to bring in another equity investor sounds more like a cash flow issue, like it is funding relative to the performance of the business, not this positive spin about acquisitions. It’s an intriguing move.”