Sale of Ziff Enterprise Group Moves Forward
When Ziff Davis owner Willis Stein & Partners announced in July that it was officially for sale it held out the possibility;even the likelihood;that the company would be sold as a “carve-out”, that is, sold in parts. Now that possibility is coming to pass.
The sale of its Enterprise Group, one of the three Ziff Davis Media operating units, along with the Game Group and the Consumer/Small Business Group, is moving forward, with one strategic bidder and two private-equity bidders in the mix. The process is now in the management-presentation stage, one source said.
A source identified TechTarget as being a strategic bidder, but TechTarget told Folio: Alert it is not involved in the bidding process.
Ziff’s search for a buyer is moving along in an “unusually” quiet manner, says the soure, an M&A expert. “That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s moving along badly, it’s just quiet,” the source says.
The Ziff Enterprise group, comprising eWeek, Baseline and CIO Insight plus the associated Web sites, produces more than $50 million and generates a corporate contribution in the $20 million range. The source says this group is the most attractive of the three. “I think the b-to-b and e-media properties are more robust and more well-developed than the properties on the consumer side. And it’s probably the better performing of the groups.” The source says there is limited opportunity for selling the company as a whole to strategic or financial buyers.
Ziff’s Game Group and Consumer/Small Business Group have apparently not yet been marketed actively. Evercore Partners is selling the enterprise group and Lehman Bros. is selling the other groups.
Willis Stein & Partners paid $780 million for Ziff Davis in April 2000. For the first six months of 2006, Ziff’s revenue fell 2.8 percent to $85.5 million, while EBITDA grew 13.9 percent to $8.4 million. As of June 30, the company reported long term debt of $367.3 million. Analysts have said previously that Willis Stein stands to get the best value for the company by selling it in parts.
Ziff spokesman Randy Zane declined to comment for this article. Instead, he referred Folio: Alert to the statement the company made in July, which said that the company is “exploring strategic alternatives” including “alliances, mergers and the sale or joint venture of all or parts of the company.”