Viacom acquires online conference VidCon

ViacomAmerican multinational media conglomerate Viacom has acquired VidCon, host of the world’s largest multi-day conference for the global online community.

With more than 30,000 attendees and 80-plus sponsors (including, for many years, Viacom), at its flagship Anaheim event, VidCon has become the largest multi-day conference of its kind and cemented itself as a leading event for the worldwide online video community. And while VidCon has already carried this momentum into events in Amsterdam and Melbourne, Viacom’s global network of platforms and properties give it the resources to further increase that reach both internationally and within the United States.

Jason Jordan, Viacom executive vice president of Multiplatform Strategy and Operations, said, “VidCon has become the foremost gathering place for the passionate online video community, and the access to talent, experts and education that VidCon provides for attendees is unparalleled. We’re excited to partner with the team to help achieve their vision and expand VidCon’s reach around the world while maintaining the grassroots energy and authenticity that makes the experience so unique and special to so many.”

USA, New York, NY & Missoula, MT

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Next Fifteen Communications Group acquires Brandwidth

Next15Next 15, the digital communications group, has acquired the digital innovation agency Brandwidth.

The initial consideration for the acquisition is £6.2 million, which will be settled with £4.9 million of cash and the issue of 292,235 new ordinary shares in Next 15. Further deferred consideration may be payable in September 2018 of up to £3.3 million and April 2020 of up to £0.8 million based on the EBIT performance of Brandwidth in the year ending 30 June 2018. The maximum total consideration of £10.3m represents a 5.5x multiple of Brandwidth’s adjusted EBIT in the year ended 30 June 2017. The acquisition is expected to be earnings enhancing for Next 15 in the year to 31 January 2019.

For the year ended 30 June 2017, Brandwidth reported adjusted net revenues of £7.3 million, adjusted EBIT of £1.9 million and adjusted profit before tax of £1.9 million. The joint CEOs, Phil Goodman and Jason Jones, and the Chairman, Andrew Strange, will continue to lead the business which includes clients such as Toyota, Royal Caribbean, Citroen, Kia and Vodafone.

Tim Dyson, CEO of Next 15, commented: “Brandwidth is a great addition to Next 15. It brings significant digital skills to the Group, in particular we are excited to be able to offer clients its capabilities around the use of voice. We see voice, through platforms such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, as a highly disruptive form of marketing. Their knowledge and experience of working with these technologies are of immense value.”

UK, London

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The Social Chain Group acquires The Football Republic from FremantleMedia

Social Chain GroupSocial media marketing agency and media publishing house The Social Chain Group has acquired a network of sport social media channels, The Football Republic, from FremantleMedia. The deal will see TFR’s brands such as The Full Time Devils become a part of Media Chain – The Social Chain Group’s social media publishing house. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The acquisition will increase Media Chain’s sport network reach by more than 2.5 million, taking the company’s global sport network to over 17 million followers, adding to its SPORF network. Launched in 2015 by Shotglass Media, the digital arm of FremantleMedia UK, TFR has built a large fan base with three million followers across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Kat Hebden, managing director at Shotglass Media, said, “We launched The Football Republic because we saw a gap in the market for football entertainment content that served a young, digitally savvy audience. We believe Media Chain will provide a great home for these communities to continue to flourish.”

UK, Manchester & London

Pokémon GO creator Niantic acquires AR startup Escher Reality

NianticThe company behind Pokémon GO, Niantic, has acquired augmented reality startup Escher Reality. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Escher Reality builds backend services for cross-platform mobile AR so users can interact with each other and objects in the environment. The startup offered functionality for shared experiences that was absent in both Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit. The startup’s investors include Uncork Capital, Founders Fund, Y Combinator, Liquid 2 Ventures, Webb Investment Network, iRobot Ventures, Presence Capital, Into Ventures and others.

Niantic CEO John Hanke said, “The addition of the Escher AR technology is incredibly exciting to us at Niantic as it significantly accelerates our work on persistent, shared AR as part of the Niantic real-world application platform. It’s our intention to make our cross-platform AR technology available more widely to developers later this year.”

Niantic is releasing its next big AR title Harry Potter Wizards Unite this year.

USA, San Francisco & Sunnyvale, CA

Clarion Events completes merger with Global Sources

ClarionLondon-based Clarion Events, one of the world’s leading independent events organisers, has completed a merger with Global Sources, a leading Asian exhibitions and online B2B marketplace operator based in Hong Kong. Funds managed by Blackstone will control the combined group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Combining both market-leaders will create one of the largest privately-owned exhibitions businesses globally, with substantial scale across Asia, Europe and North America, organising 200 events per year and generating more than £300m of Revenues. The combined group will be led by the existing Clarion management team under Chief Executive Officer Russell Wilcox and Chairman Simon Kimble. The new group will continue to operate under the name Clarion Events, with the Global Sources brand identity retained in the Asian region.

Commenting on the announcement, Russell Wilcox, CEO of Clarion Events, said: “This merger marks an important milestone for both companies as we embark on an exciting new chapter. With the support of Blackstone, the new Group is well positioned to take advantage of our combined scale and global platform. We look forward to working with the Global Sources management, and believe that the remarkable expertise and capability of the combined company offers a very strong opportunity for future growth.”

UK, London & Hong Kong

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Meredith Corporation completes acquisition of Time Inc.

MeredithMeredith Corporation has completed its acquisition of Time Inc., with February 2018 the first day of operations for the combined company. Time Inc. shareholders received $18.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $2.8 billion originally announced on 26 November 2017. Meredith also announced fiscal 2018 second quarter and first half results.

Meredith Corporation Chairman and CEO Stephen M. Lacy said, “With this acquisition, we are creating a premier media and marketing company serving 200 million American consumers that’s positioned for growth across industry-leading digital, television, print, video, mobile, and social platforms. The combined portfolio joins the rich content-creation capabilities of many of the media industry’s strongest national brands with a powerful local television business that is generating record earnings.”

USA, New York, NY & Des Moines, Iowa

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Blackstone-led consortium agrees partnership with Thomson Reuters for financial & risk business

 

Thomson ReutersFollowing our earlier reporting on talks between Thomson Reuters and private equity firm Blackstone, the transaction has now been agreed on, with Thomson Reuters to sell a 55% majority stake in its F&R business to private equity funds managed by Blackstone. The transaction values the F&R business at approximately $20 billion. Thomson Reuters will receive approximately $17 billion in gross proceeds at closing (subject to purchase price adjustments) funded by $14 billion of debt and preferred equity to be incurred by the partnership and a $3 billion cash equity contribution by Blackstone. Thomson Reuters will retain a 45% interest in the F&R business. Thomson Reuters will also maintain full ownership of its Legal, Tax & Accounting and the Reuters News businesses. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and GIC will invest alongside Blackstone for the transaction.

The F&R business provides a broad range of offerings to financial market professionals. Its global content sets include fundamentals, estimates and primary and secondary research. F&R also provides customers with tools, platforms, venues and services to enable fast, intelligent decision-making. The businesses that will comprise the new F&R partnership had 2017 revenues of approximately $6 billion.

At the closing of the proposed transaction, F&R and Reuters News will sign a 30-year agreement for Reuters to supply news and editorial content to the new partnership. Under the agreement, F&R will pay Reuters a minimum of $325 million annually. For the duration of the news contract, Thomson Reuters will grant F&R a license to permit F&R to brand its information feeds and products/services with the “Reuters” mark, subject to applicable limitations and restrictions set forth in a trademark license agreement.

Jim Smith, president and chief executive officer of Thomson Reuters, said, “This deal strengthens F&R and should accelerate its growth and benefit its customers across the sell-side, buy-side and trading venues. Blackstone’s strong relationships in the financial services industry and long and successful history of corporate partnerships will help F&R provide new and innovative products and services, drive further efficiencies and navigate ongoing industry consolidation.”

Canada, Toronto, Ontario & USA, New York, NY

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