Buyer: Summit Business Media
Seller: Wicks Business Information
Sale Price: $40 million est.
Takeaway: Summit created the "third leg of the stool" and then, presumably, the fourth when it purchased WBI and Agent Media in 2007, expanding its foothold in its existing markets while broadening into others.
Summit Business Media acquired Wicks Business Information (WBI), a media company serving legal and financial services professionals in July 2007, about eight months after Summit’s CEO Bill Reilly, former F+W chairman and Primedia founder, formed the company as a result of Wind Point Partners’ acquisition of Highline Media and Pfingsten Publishing.
"WBI added scale as the ‘third leg of the stool,’" says Andy Goodenough, president of Summit and former president of Highline. WBI, which generated about $33 million in revenue at the time, was "nearly the same size in terms of revenue and profit as the initial two acquisitions that formed Summit," he says.
The deal included WBI’s Investment Advisor, Credit Union Times, Inside Counsel and Treasury and Risk magazines, as well as the Executive Enterprises seminar unit, which produces more than 100 courses each year. Goodenough says the deal helped deepen Summit’s penetration into the financial sector, broadened its footprint to include professional services beyond financial, and strengthened its training product line.
Summit announced another acquisition, Agent Media, less than one week after announcing its deal with WBI, reminiscent of its dual purchase of Pfingsten and Highline in late 2006. Agent, generating an estimated $15 million in revenue at the time, expanded the company’s hold in the insurance industry with Agent’s Sales Journal, Insurance Marketing, and other products like The Agent’s Market Pack, a direct response agent recruitment tool with 2.6 million total distribution, and eProducer Connect, an e-mail list of more than 1.6 million licensed agents and registered representatives.
In 2007, Reilly told FOLIO: that he’d like to build Summit into a $500 million company over the next several years. Goodenough says, "It’s an ambitious goal, but certainly WBI is the next step toward growing our company."
Comments: "This was a good buy for Reilly. The Wicks products fit well within the Summit platform, and Reilly’s building quite a nice footprint in the insurance and financial markets."