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Small Flurry of Deals Give M&A Hope for ‘09

PennWell purchases HCI; Austin Ventures acquires financial publisher.



By Jason Fell
12/22/2008

After several months of scarce magazine M&A action—no doubt a result of the down economy—there has been a small flurry of deals over the last week or so. The latest include PennWell Corporation’s acquisition of b-to-b publisher HCI Publications, and Texas-based private equity group Austin Ventures’ purchase of Asset International, a retirement and international securities services industries publisher.

As part of the PennWell acquisition, HCI Publications owners Leslie Eden and Carl Vansant will serve as consultants to PennWell. Serving the hydroelectric industry, Kansas City, Missouri-based HCI publishes Hydro Review and HRW magazines and produces the HydroVision and Waterpower conferences, as well as several other magazines, events and Web sites.
    
PennWell will move HCI to Tulsa, Oklahoma where it will be led by Richard Baker, vice president and publisher of PennWell’s North American Global Energy Group. It was not immediately clear if any layoffs were associated with the acquisition. Seven editorial and advertising staffers agreed to make the move to Oklahoma, PenWell said.

HCI was represented in the deal by advisory firm Whitestone Communications. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In another deal, Austin Ventures—the private equity firm that this summer nearly purchased Entrepreneur Media—said it agreed to acquire Stamford, Connecticut-based global financial information publisher Asset International. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In conjunction with the announcement, Austin Ventures named Jim Casella, who formerly served as vice chairman of Reed Business Information, as CEO. Before that, he served as CEO of RBI U.S. (Cahners). Casella worked with the private equity firm in what it called a “CEO-in-residence” capacity during negotiations.

Asset International publishes financial sector publications, including its flagship PlanSponsor magazine, which has a circulation of 35,000. It also produces the Daily NewsDash and AdvisorDash newsletters.

No layoffs were associated with the acquisition, Austin Ventures said.

By Jason Fell
12/22/2008







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