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M&A Prospects 2009

Deals are down but that means prices are too.

By Matt Kinsman

The number of media acquisitions has plummeted over the last year and there’s little chance of a rebound in 2009, particularly for the blockbuster, private equity-driven deals that dominated the marketplace until recently.

However, attendees at last month’s DeSilva & Phillips Media Dealmakers Summit said they are looking for deals, particularly as prices that have soared during the latest boom, come back to earth. “The last three deals we did were 3X, tops,” said Pat Kenealy, managing director of IDG Ventures SF. “You can do deals now at a price you wouldn’t have dreamed of a year ago.”

Kenealy said social networks are monetizeable. “We’re seeing business models emerge,” he added. “We invested in a company that makes Facebook applications for industries such as nursing. Six months later there were more than 600,000 nurses using it. Compare that to the typical controlled circulation.”

Print, Events Still Worthy

Other attendees said they are still looking for traditional media as well. Reed Exhibitions CEO Mike Rusbridge said Reed is exploring acquisitions in the U.S. “We haven’t seen anything as appealing as expos,” he added. “Conferences don’t do it and events in general don’t do it either.”

Many attendees spoke of developing print models more dependent on subscriptions and paid content. The Economist Group’s Roll Call gets 50 percent of revenue from subscriptions. Overall, The Economist Group has seen events impacted more severely than print, according to director of development Todd Tauber.

By Matt Kinsman

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