London-based research and events firm Informa has acquired telecommunications industry publisher Light Reading, along with research-oriented counterpart Heavy Reading, from CEO and founder Steve Saunders.
Saunders will continue at Informa for a minimum of three years, under the title of digital publisher-in-chief.
“At this point in my own career I am eager for a seat at this table and the opportunities it affords Light Reading to grow,” Saunders tells Folio:.
The Light Reading and Heavy Reading teams will report Andrew Mullins, chief executive of Informa’s Knowledge & Networking division. Patrick Martell, chief executive of Informa’s Business Intelligence division, will also work closely with the teams.
"We’ll be bringing our data, sales and marketing capabilities and enhanced event operations to what Light Reading currently does in both information services and events, and at the same time, Light Reading will give us more high quality content and expertise in digital and marketing services that we can apply across our events portfolio," Mullins said in a statement.
This is the third changing of hands for Light Reading, which launched in 2000. Saunders sold the company to UBM in 2005 for about $27 million, before going on to start the tech news site Internet Evolution.
He then bought the company back in 2014 after UBM decided Light Reading wasn’t well enough aligned with its UBM Tech portfolio.
“It was a very straightforward decision. It’s very successful as a business, but in looking at the range of businesses that UBM wanted to address, this one didn’t offer the same opportunities the others did for UBM Tech,” a UBM spokesperson told Folio: at the time.
When asked what made Informa the right fit, Saunders tells Folio: that the choice came down to the executive team, and the possibilities offered by the new parent company.
“They were the only company that I met with whose level of ambition matches my own…” Saunders says. “Being part of Informa will have a transformative effect on our live events, and on the deliverables associated with our media programs.”
A spokesperson tells Folio: that Light Reading was acquired as part of Informa’s 2014-2017 Growth Acceleration Plan. It is one of the first acquisitions in the Knowledge & Networking division.
At the start of the plan, Informa's growth centered around expanding its North American events business. In February, the company acquired the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show (WWETT) from Wisconsin-based Cole Publishing. Before that, Informa also purchased the Florida International Medical Expo (FIME), Dwell’s flagship event, Dwell on Design, and Hanley Wood's exhibition business.
The terms of the Light Reading acquisition were not disclosed.