M&A Scorecard | December 2008
From layoffs to plunging credit markets, publishing industry M&A activity seemed to grind to a halt in late October/early November. According to predictions from the Jordan, Edmiston Group managing directors Tolman Geffs and Scott Peters, the market could bottom out before the end of the year and not see growth until 2010.
Buyer: WPP Group
Seller: The Nielsen Company (SRDS)
Sale Price: (trade)
The deal behind the deal: The Nielsen Company traded media rates and data provider SRDS to U.K.-based ad agency the WPP Group in exchange for the remaining 50 percent stake in AGBNielsen Media Research, making Nielsen the groupâ€™s sole owner.
As part of the asset swap, Nielsen will transfer healthcare media group PERQ/HCIâ€”which merged with SRDS in 2002â€”and its 11 percent stake in Brazilian-based research firm the IBOPE Group to WPP.
â€śIn an increasingly digital world, it is essential for Nielsen to strengthen its global market position,â€ť Nielsen chairman and CEO David Calhoun said in a statement.
In October, the WPP Group acquired TNS Media Intelligence parent Taylor Nelson Sofres for $1.9 billion.
Our panel says: â€śSRDS, a venerable brand, has obvious ties to Nielsenâ€™s Adweek Media Group. The trade, however, is a strategic one in that it itâ€™s a good fit for both parties, and gives Nielsen full ownership of its global TV ratings group.â€ť
Buyer: Tiger Oak Publications
Seller: Sabey Corp. (Washington CEO)
Sale Price: N/A
The deal behind the deal: Regional publisher Tiger Oak Publications has acquired Washington CEO from Sabey Corp., a Tukwila, Washington-based real estate developer. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
As part of the deal, Tiger Oak will shutter Washington CEO and fold its assets into Seattle Business. Tiger Oak also publishers Seattle, Northwest Meetings and Events and Urban Pages.
â€śI operated Washington CEO even though it wasnâ€™t core to our business because I believe the business community needs a strong and respected voice,â€ť Dave Sabey, Sabey Corp. chairman, said in a statement. â€śWe made the decision in these challenging economic times that the best way to preserve a voice was by merging Washington CEO into Seattle Business.â€ť
Washington CEO was published monthly and had a circulation of 32,500. The December issue will be its last.
Our panel says: â€śFolding [Washington CEO] into the buyerâ€™s stronger magazineâ€”Seattle Businessâ€”leverages former subscribers along with some good staff, and strengthens Tiger Oakâ€™s foothold in the market. Weâ€™ve seen several of these sales and it strengthens the regional publishing sector as a whole.â€ť
Buyer: Imagine Nation Books
Seller: Readerâ€™s Digest Association (Books Are Fun)
Sale Price: Approx. $17.5 million
The deal behind the deal: As part of a multi-tiered transaction, the Readerâ€™s Digest Association agreed to sell assets associated with Books Are Fun, including intellectual property and product inventory, to Imagine Nation Books for roughly $17.5 million, payable over three years.
Following the close of the transactionâ€”which is expected in Decemberâ€”RDA will â€śwind downâ€ť the Books Are Fun operations, the company said in a statement. INB will integrate Books Are Fun salespeople with its own team.
The companies also have entered into a â€śmulti-year strategic allianceâ€ť in which RDA will sell products through INBâ€™s display marketing channels.
Our panel says:
â€śObviously, Imagine Nation Books is banking on the continued value of Readerâ€™s Digest book products. If they can successfully integrate the teams they will create what will likely be a stronger sales operation.â€ť
Buyer: Congressional Quarterly
Sale Price: N/A
The deal behind the deal: Washington-based Congressional Quarterly Inc. has acquired Web-based state legislation information search engine TrendTRACK. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
CQ, which is owned by St. Petersburg Times newspaper publisher Times Publishing Co., hopes to tap into TrendTRACKâ€™s search capabilities, which connects clients with the status and text of every bill in every active legislature, the company says. Clientsâ€”including trade and professional associations, education institutions and public affairs firmsâ€”use the service to create customized reports and e-mail alerts.
In May, Congressional Quarterly Inc. sold CQ Press, its book publishing business, to SAGE, an international publisher of journals, books and electronic media for academic, educational and professional markets.
Our panel says: â€śThis makes sense. The acquisition expands Congressional Quarterlyâ€™s legislative tracking capabilities from the federal level more deeply into the state level.â€ť
Buying? Selling? Know someone who is?
Submit M&A related tips and news to associate editor Jason Fell.