Centaur Media Plc to divest digital platform, events & financial services divisions

centaur-logoFollowing a strategic review, Centaur, the international provider of market intelligence and specialist consultancy, is accelerating the simplification of the Group’s structure to improve operational execution and to focus attention on the leading brands within its marketing division.

Centaur is looking at the potential sale of The Lawyer, which operates a digital platform to provide intelligence and analysis to the global legal market; of its events division, including the Business Travel Show, The Meetings Show, Sub Con and Employee Benefits, and of its financial services division, which includes Money Marketing, Mortgage Strategy, Platforum, Taxbriefs and Headline Money.

Andria Vidler, Centaur Chief Executive, said, “Centaur has made substantial progress this year and these appointments will help us to deliver on our strategy to create a more focused business with good opportunities to grow its revenues and margins. We will work with our advisers to explore divestment possibilities and ensure that shareholder value is maximised.”

UK, London

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THQ Nordic acquires game development studios Coffee Stain and Bugbear

THQ NordicTHQ Nordic has acquired both Coffee Stain Studios, developers of Deep Rock Galactic, A Story About My Uncle, and the Satisfactory, and Bugbear Entertainment, who created Flatout and Wreckfest. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Lars Wingefors, CEO of THQ Nordic, said, “We are creating a complementary digital native pillar to THQ Nordic. Coffee Stain is a passionate and highly competent team creating and publishing great games. After some years without major releases, the pipeline of new game releases such as Satisfactory and Deep Rock Galactic look strong. I look forward to working together with Anton Westbergh and his team in the future.”

THQ Nordic now has a sizeable array of studios and IPs, with over 55 games in active development.

Austria, Vienna, Sweden, Skövde & Finland, Helsinki

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Ascential acquires Flywheel Digital for $60M

Ascential plcGlobal specialist information and events company Ascential plc is to acquire Flywheel Digital, a leading US-based provider of managed services to consumer product companies trading on Amazon, for an initial cash consideration of $60 million plus earn out payments payable over three years.

Founded in 2014, Flywheel offers customers Amazon-specific software, tools and expertise to drive sales and brand performance across Amazon platforms by directly actioning solutions for clients. Flywheel’s proprietary platforms and processes optimise brands’ online operations, including merchandising, supply logistics and media management. Flywheel primarily serves large-scale US consumer product companies, with more than 70 customers and more than 90 staff based in Baltimore and Seattle.

The initial consideration of US$60m (subject to normal working capital adjustments) is being paid out of Ascential’s existing cash reserves using capital released from the sale of the Exhibitions business. Earn out consideration is payable in cash based on the revenue of the business for the next three years to 2021 and is expected to total between approximately US$47m and US$196m. A portion of the earn out is subject to the founders remaining in employment with the company. The total potential consideration, including both initial consideration and earn out payments, is capped at US$400m in the event that extremely stretching revenue levels are reached.

In the year ended December 2017, Flywheel grew its revenue by more than 150% and delivered unaudited profit before tax of $4.8m. It had gross assets of $23.9m at December 2017. The transaction is expected to be earnings accretive in Ascential’s current financial year.

Flywheel will report to Duncan Painter, CEO of Ascential. The business will be reported as part of Ascential’s Sales segment alongside the newly integrated Edge business (comprising One Click Retail, Clavis, Planet Retail RNG and Brand View) which offers a range of insight and advisory solutions to improve performance across Amazon and other eCommerce platforms.

Duncan Painter, CEO of Ascential, commented, ‘We have a clear focus on providing information and capabilities that enable our customers to succeed in the digital economy. The acquisition of Flywheel is in line with this strategy, further strengthening our offerings in eCommerce for brands navigating the digital market places, particularly Amazon.’

UK, London & USA, Seattle, WA

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IBM to acquire Red Hat for $34bn

IBMIBM and Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source cloud software, have reached a definitive agreement under which IBM will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190.00 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately $34 billion.

Red Hat is a leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver reliable and high-performing Linux, hybridRed Hat cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies. Red Hat helps customers integrate new and existing IT applications, develop cloud-native applications, standardize on our industry-leading operating system, and automate, secure, and manage complex environments.

Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “The acquisition of Red Hat is a game-changer. It changes everything about the cloud market. IBM will become the world’s #1 hybrid cloud provider, offering companies the only open cloud solution that will unlock the full value of the cloud for their businesses. Most companies today are only 20 percent along their cloud journey, renting compute power to cut costs. The next 80 percent is about unlocking real business value and driving growth. This is the next chapter of the cloud. It requires shifting business applications to hybrid cloud, extracting more data and optimizing every part of the business, from supply chains to sales.”

Upon closing of the acquisition, Red Hat will join IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team as a distinct unit, preserving the independence and neutrality of Red Hat’s open source development heritage and commitment, current product portfolio and go-to-market strategy, and unique development culture. Red Hat will continue to be led by Jim Whitehurst and Red Hat’s current management team. Jim Whitehurst also will join IBM’s senior management team and report to Ginni Rometty. IBM intends to maintain Red Hat’s headquarters, facilities, brands and practices.

USA, Armonk, NY and Raleigh, NC

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CloserStill Media acquires a majority stake in The eLearning Guild in the US

CloserStillCloserStill Media has acquired a majority stake in FocusZone Media, Inc., operating as The eLearning Guild, for an undisclosed sum. The eLearning Guild has a 40,000+ membership community of learning and development professionals in the United States and across the world. The Guild operates major conferences and exhibitions including DevLearn (Las Vegas, NV), Learning Solutions (Orlando, FL) and Realities 360 (San Jose, CL) and has a number of digital publications as well as research and online events.

CloserStill runs the world’s leading workplace learning event brand, Learning Technologies, with three market leading annual events in London, Berlin (with Online Educa) and Paris, a global digital community and the industry’s leading awards programme for corporate learning and development professionals. The London event in February is Europe’s largest annual exhibition and conference for the workplace learning sector attracting more than 8,000 attendees and over 200 exhibitors.

CloserStill’s Learning Group Managing Director, Mark Penton, said, “We are delighted to welcome The eLearning Guild and their impressive event portfolio to our growing global network and are incredibly excited by the huge opportunities this will create. And most importantly, we look forward to enhancing the collaboration between our family of learning brands and their learning communities around the world.”

USA, Santa Rosa, CL & UK, London

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Ascential acquires price and promotions analytics firm Brand View for £29.8M

Ascential plcGlobal information and events company Ascential plc is to acquire Brand View Limited, a provider of price and promotion analytics for manufacturers and retailers. Ascential will buy the firm for an initial £29.8 million and a deferred payment of up to £8.2 million, subject to Brand View achieving subscription targets in the coming months.

Founded in 2008, Brand View offers data and analysis to retailers and manufacturers to allow them to measure and manage pricing and promotion activity and drive sales, across both off-line and on-line market places. Brand View serves over 200 customers from offices in Reading (UK), Stamford Connecticut (USA) and Paris (France).In the year to June 2018, Brand View generated revenues of £13m. Ascential is expecting the transaction to be earnings enhancing in its current financial year.

Duncan Painter, Chief Executive at Ascential, said, “We have a clear focus on providing information and capabilities that enable our customers to succeed in the digital economy. The acquisition of Brand View, using capital released from the sale of the exhibitions business, supports this goal by broadening our capabilities in ecommerce analytics. Brand View’s price and promotion expertise, and coverage of store-based activity, provides a comprehensive offering for both retailers and manufacturers.”

UK, London & Reading

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FC Business Intelligence targets growth with LDC investment

LDCMid-market private equity investor LDC has backed the management buyout of global events company FC Business Intelligence. The value of the transaction is undisclosed.

FCBI delivers conference and exhibition events with a focus on providing thought leadership in a diverse range of sectors that are facing both challenges and opportunities from technological and strategic innovation including the energy, insurance, pharmaceuticals transportation and travel sectors. Its offering is designed to help senior business professionals stay at the forefront of change through insight sharing and networking with peers.

The investment will enable FCBI to target further organic growth as it plans to increase the scale of its events and expand into new markets, including Asia. The business will also look to make a number of acquisitions both at home and overseas.FC Business Intelligence

With 130 employees based at its head office in Shoreditch, FCBI operates globally with 65 per cent of the company’s annual turnover of £30 million generated in the US, 20 per cent in continental Europe and 10 per cent in the UK.

LDC is backing FCBI’s existing management team, led by Chief Executive Officer Piers Latimer. The investment marks an exit for its original founders.

The deal was led by investment director David Andrews and investment manager Alex Wilby. David Andrews and Rob Schofield will join the board of the business with Tim Trotter joining as Non-Executive Chairman, bringing significant experience of growing PE-backed people businesses internationally. David Gilbertson, former CEO of EMAP and Informa, also joins as a Non-Executive Director, bringing a wealth of industry experience.

Piers Latimer, Chief Executive Officer of FCBI, said, “We have established a worldwide reputation for developing high-quality strategic events that deliver the insights business leaders need to direct their companies and shape their markets. With demand for our services only set to increase, we’re in a great position to accelerate growth. Bringing on board an experienced and well-connected investment partner in LDC felt right at this juncture and we’re excited to be moving forward with their support”.

David Andrews, investment director at LDC in London, added, “Piers and his management team have overseen a remarkable period of growth for FCBI thanks to their focus on content-rich, delegate-led events that deliver real value to more than 9,000 attendees and 1,400 sponsors and exhibitors each year. The opportunity now is for the management team to strengthen and extend this growth and we’re looking forward to supporting them on this journey.”

UK, London

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