PennWell Corp. and NewBay Media Acquired By UK Firms
The British are coming.
Tulsa, Oklahoma-based PennWell Corp. announced Tuesday that it has been acquired by UK-based exhibitions giant Clarion Events for an undisclosed sum.
A 108-year-old, family-owned business, PennWell operates more than 100 print and online b2b brands serving a number of sectors, but primarily the oil, gas, and energy industries. The company employs 550 across seven locations, including satellite offices in California, New Jersey, and the UK.
Backed by U.S.-based private equity firm Blackstone—among the largest alternative asset funds in the world—Clarion produces more than 180 events across 50 countries. The deal marks a second significant expansion of Clarion’s portfolio since it was acquired by Blackstone last July, coming just two months after Clarion’s merger with Hong Kong-based trade show organizer and b2b media firm Global Sources.
“PennWell’s roster of market-leading events strongly enhances Clarion’s portfolio,” said Clarion executive chairman Simon Kimble in a prepared statement. “Our global network and depth of resources will further strengthen PennWell’s offerings, enhancing opportunities for growth and expansion across North America and globally.”
In a separate transaction completed Wednesday, NewBay Media has been acquired by London-based Future Publishing for $13.8 million.
A publicly held company whose brands include PC Gamer, SFX, and TechRadar, among dozens of others, Future plc has long maintained a U.S. division in San Francisco. The company said it was attracted to NewBay for its complementary b2b titles, particularly in the telecom, music, and electronics spaces, as well as the prospect of expanding its footprint in the U.S.
“This acquisition supports our strategy of growth organically and through acquisition, global expansion, and revenue diversification,” said Future CEO, Zillah Byng-Thorne, in a prepared statement, adding, “We have a proven track record of acquisition and successful integration.”
Future says the acquisition expands its portfolio to more than 100 print and digital media and event brands, and pushes its overall global reach past the 120 million mark. The deal also represents a homecoming for consumer-oriented brands like Guitar World and Revolver, which Future sold to NewBay in 2012.
“This combination will result in new and better opportunities for both NewBay and Future partners to expand reach and depth of customer interactions throughout the buyer’s journey,” added NewBay president and CEO, Steve Palm. “I am proud of the many accomplishments made by the NewBay team over the last few years in the areas of events, marketing services, and digital content.”
Both deals continue a recent trend involving London-based interests investing heavily in the North American b2b media and exhibition space since Informa’s $1.5 billion takeover of Penton late in 2016. Informa’s UK-based rival, UBM, similarly spent the last several years targeting events businesses in the U.S. and Asia before nearing its own merger with Informa earlier this year. That deal, while likely, has yet to be completed. Blackstone appears particularly intent on furthering its footprint in the U.S., having invested $17 billion in Thomson Reuters’ financial and risk business in January.