buyer: Apprise Media | seller: Beckett, Canon, CFW Enterprises, Y-Visionary | price (combined): $270 million est.| date: January (Beckett), April (Canon), August (CFW), September (Y-Visionary)
takeaway: Taking cues from his former company;Primedia;Charles McCurdy’s Apprise Media, one of the most active M&A players in 2005, is setting up shop in both consumer enthusiast and b-to-b media with an eye on even more strategic growth in 2006.
For Apprise Media founder Charles McCurdy, the what a difference a year makes. In January 2005, McCurdy and his deputy, Michael Behringer, were perched in their 27th floor Midtown Manhattan corner office within eyeshot, ironically, of McCurdy’s old digs at Primedia backed with $200 million from Spectrum Equity Investors. But they had nothing, as yet, to show for it. Apprise, which McCurdy founded in 2004, had lost out on a bid to acquire Thomson Media, which sold for $350 million to Investcorp in October 2004, and was rumored to have had an offer for Primedia Business rebuffed.
But in a year of increased M&A activity, McCurdy;a longtime Primedia president and interim CEO in 2003; has been one of the most active. He engineered four deals for roughly $270 million and set up platform operations on a pair of fronts;niche consumer enthusiast media and b-to-b, building a portfolio with $100 million in revenue. What’s more, McCurdy’s return to the M&A scene added to the growing list of ex-Primedia executives (Ascend Media’s Cam Bishop, the subject of last year’s Folio: deal-issue cover; Network Communications’ Dan McCarthy and F+W’s William Reilly, who cashed out in the company’s controversial sale to ABRY) driving the surge of private equity spending in publishing.
McCurdy made Apprise’s first acquisition in January 2005, buying the consumer-sports cards and collectibles guide publisher Beckett for an estimated $20 million. "It’s nice to see Charlie back in the game," one publisher told Folio: at the time. In April, McCurdy made a bigger splash, nabbing the much-sought-after Canon Communications, a b-to-b medical-manufacturing publisher, from Veronis Suhler Stevenson for $200 million. In Canon and its $60 million in annual revenues, Apprise landed a b-to-b platform with a marketshare he described as "dominant." McCurdy followed up the Canon deal with a pair of smaller acquisitions of West-Coast publishers;paintball and martial arts enthusiast publisher CFW in August, and Y-Visionary, a publisher of nine automotive, outdoor sports and shelter magazines, in early September;adding to his cadre of consumer-enthusiast properties and drawing even more comparisons to the Primedia model (see McCurdy’s response to the "Are you building a mini-Primedia?" question in his Q&A).
"We’re growing each of these businesses through aggressive operating," McCurdy said. "It’s part of a broader pattern of building up an effective, multivertical publishing company, and creating a lot of value by doing it."
comments: Apprise is following a Primedia-like path by acquiring both consumer and b-to-b media companies. Doing so means twice the fun! They can look at all b-to-b and consumer acquisition opportunities … Buying well established, cash-flowing platform companies that dominate their market niches is the name of the game here. The money spigot is turned on full. Look for more deals to come … Good markets, very strong management. This will be a successful deal for Apprise.
http://www.apprisemedia.com/ | http://www.spectrumequity.com/ |