M&A Scorecard | September 2008
The shaky credit market has had magazine M&A on lockdown over the last several weeks, with little more than a peep coming in the way of finalized deals. In late July, the sale of Entrepreneur Media Group fizzled. One potential bright spot was word that financial terms were agreed to, at least verbally, for Wasserstein to acquire Cygnus Business Media.
Buyer: Time Inc.
Seller: Reader’s Digest (QSP Inc.)
Sale Price: $110 million
The deal behind the deal: Time Inc. agreed to purchase QSP Inc., a school and youth group fundraising company that sells magazine subscriptions, from the Reader’s Digest Association, for $110 million in cash.
RDA and Time Inc. ran QSP jointly after the company was founded in 1963. RDA bought Time Inc.’s shares eight years later in 1971.
Time Inc., in a statement, said it views fundraising as “a growing area for subscriptions across the magazine publishing industry.” According to RDA president and CEO Mary Berner, the move is “consistent with our strategy to focus on our core competencies, which include growing our portfolio of publishing businesses and building multi-platform communities of customers based on our branded content.”
Today, QSP is the largest school fundraising company in North America.
Our panel says: “School plan subscriptions have always been considered quality circulation by advertisers. They reach an important demographic group. Time Inc. will have a greater incentive [than a company outside of the industry] to see that QSP continues to be an important source of subscriptions for the industry.”
Buyer: Private investors
Seller: The Wrap News
Sale Price: $500,000 first round seed financing
The deal behind the deal: A little more than half-a-year after leaving her post as New York Times Hollywood correspondent, Sharon Waxman announced that she had received $500,000 in first round seed financing for the launch of entertainment news site, TheWrapNews.com.
The Wrap News, according to Waxman, will be a news and information network covering the entertainment and media industries by featuring a combination of original and aggregated news, as well as user-generated content. Waxman has been blogging at her personal site, WaxWord.net, in hopes of building an audience before launching early next year.
Waxman declined to tell FOLIO: who her private investors are but indicated that she probably needs at least $1 million to get the site launched. While she also declined to offer details about her projected first year revenue, she plans to monetize the site through advertising and syndication.
Our panel says: “If she can attract enough eyeballs then she can certainly monetize the site. It’s a crowded field. If she can become the ‘Drudge Report’ of Hollywood and entertainment then the sky’s the limit.”
Buyer: Holden Landmark Corp.
Sale Price: N/A
The deal behind the deal: Alternative newsweekly Worcester was acquired by newspaper publisher Holden Landmark Corp. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A newsprint tabloid with a 34,000 circ., Worcester is distributed free at 500 locations around the central Massachusetts city. According to Holden Landmark publisher Gareth Charter, acquiring the magazine, from a market standpoint, is a “beautiful fit” for the company, which publishes five weekly newspapers in the greater Worcester area, as well as State Parent magazine. “We couldn’t offer our advertisers penetration into the city, and now we can. We like the alternative city space … we think it has great potential.”
Looking forward, Charter said the possibility of converting Worcester to a glossy is “undetermined,” indicating that “many ideas are on the table.” One idea is to launch an annual glossy edition, he says.
Our panel says: “It’s actually an appropriate title for a traditional newspaper to buy, because it reaches an audience that the traditional papers are losing, namely younger readers, as well as giving them some traction with advertisers they may not otherwise get.”
Buyer: Questex Media
Sale Price: N/A
The deal behind the deal: Massachusetts-based b-to-b publisher Questex Media has acquired SpaTrade, the producer of SpaTrade.com, SpaExec.net and the SpaExec networking events. Terms were not disclosed.
SpaTrade’s networks carry 15,000 registered members including spa owners, operators, practitioners and suppliers. Questex owns a number of spa industry trade titles, including American Spa and American Salon, and the Medical Spa Report. It also owns the International Beauty Show, the International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conferences, and SPATEC events.
Earlier this year, Questex acquired FierceMarkets, which offers e-mail newsletters, Web sites, Webinars and live events in the telecom, life sciences, healthcare and IT and finance industries.
Our panel says: “It seems to make a lot of sense—a logical add-on deal. With SpaTrade’s reach to 15,000-plus registered industry members, Questex has increased its footprint in that industry.”
Buying? Selling? Know someone who is?
Submit M&A related tips and news to associate editor Jason Fell.