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Lebhar-Friedman Sells Dowden Health Media

Deal concludes relationship with GE Capital, leaves publisher debt-free.



Tony Silber By Tony Silber
12/22/2010

Barely a week after the sale of Nation's Restaurant News, Lebhar-Friedman said today that it has sold several more businesses, all within the Dowden Health Media unit, to the New York City-based private-equity firm High Road Capital Partners.

The price was not disclosed. Specific units being sold include Dowden Custom Media, the Medical Communications Group, and e-Crossings. About 40 employees will transfer with their brands to the new owner, which currently has no other media holdings. The sold businesses collectively generated about $20 million. Nation's Restaurant News is a $15 million business.

With the sale, Lebhar-Friedman is now free and clear of debt and has concluded its relationship with GE Capital, which financed Lebhar's estimated $40 million acquisition of Dowden Health Media in 2005. CEO Roger Friedman said Wednesday that he's bullish on his company's prospects, even though it's a much smaller business than the $100 million operation that existed as recently as 2007.

"I believe we've got great opportunities in the current markets we're serving, the retail field, with the emphasis on drug stores and pharmacies," Friedman said. "We will put our emphasis in the digital area developing communities and Web sites for our various constituents. We also have businesses in Spain and Japan and a market-research company in Tampa serving the financial community."

Following the sale of Dowden Health Media and NRN, Lebhar-Friedman is down to four retail-focused publications and their related businesses: Home Channels News, Chain Store Age, Retailing Today and Drug Store News.

Last year, Lebhar-Friedman sold Dowden Professional Publications to multimedia communications company Quadrant HealthCom Inc. Included in the deal were Dowden's four medical journals: OBG Management, Current Psychiatry, The Journal of Family Practice and Mayo Clinic Proceedings and its events division.

The dramatic and unhappy downsizing of Lebhar-Friedman is just the latest example of painful restructurings that have occurred in the magazine-based media world since the downturn in 2008. Many companies took on either debt or private-equity ownership, and when their revenue declined, they found themselves unable to remain in compliance with their financial covenants, even though, for many, they remained profitable businesses. Penton Media, which NRN was sold to, is one example of a b-to-b media company that endured the Chapter 11 process.

LF, sources say, is now a business with revenue just north of $20 million.

Tony Silber By Tony Silber
12/22/2010







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