The Year of the Distressed Deal is how 2009 will be remembered by most media buyers and sellers. While deal volume and value shrank dramatically in 2008 (along with the economy) and the private equity hangover set in after a near decade-long spending binge, most properties on the market in 2009 were those that had no choice but to sell (typically at a much reduced rate than what their owners expected a year or two ago).
On the other hand, some sources say there were signs of life in media M&A toward the end of 2009. Transaction value in business-to-business media increased dramatically in 2009, primarily due to the $3.4 billion acquisition of Soringer Science+Business Media by EQT Partners in December. However, M&A around consumer magazine properties was flat, with 41 transactions (versus 42 in 2008) with the average deal size around $5 million, according to the Jordan Edmiston Group.
FOLIO:’s top deals of 2009 were chosen not so much for their size but how they represent the M&A atmosphere in publishing: Fewer sales, more mergers, sales of none-core assets and a growing demand for data services.