Exponent acquires Dennis Publishing

Exponent PEExponent is to acquire Dennis Publishing, a multi-platform international media group which owns several award-winning brands including its flagship title, The Week.

Initial reports from Sky News suggested Exponent could pay between £150m and £200m, with The Week alone valued at around £100m, although the final amount was unconfirmed.

Dennis is a leading consumer media and e-commerce organisation, based in London and New York. Its portfolio consists of over 30 brands across four main areas of focus: Current Affairs, Technology, Automotive and Special Interest. In addition to The Week, it is home to several well-known brands including MoneyWeek, The Week Junior, BuyACar.co.uk, Auto Express, CarBuyer, Computer Active, Alphr.com, Cyclist and Viz, among others. Across all its brands it reaches over 50 million readers and sells over 2.5 million magazines every month.

Dennis is the first investment to be made from Exponent’s fourth fund, Exponent Private Equity Partners IV, LP.

Commenting on the acquisition, David McGovern of Exponent, said, “Dennis is a unique, innovative and dynamic publishing and e-commerce business. We believe that there is a significant opportunity to grow both its print and digital platforms, which will allow it to reach and engage even more readers and customers. Exponent is delighted to back James Tye and his team. We look forward to combining their expert knowledge with our own deep experience in consumer media and e-commerce to help further develop Dennis’ strong market positions and build on Felix Dennis’ legacy.”

Dick Pountain, on behalf of the Executors of the Felix Dennis estate, said, “The Executors of Felix Dennis’ estate are delighted to agree the sale of Dennis Publishing to Exponent. We see Exponent as excellent partners for Dennis; their track record in media is extremely strong and we have confidence in their ability to continue to grow the size and reputation of the company that Felix created almost 50 years ago.

The proceeds of this sale go to the Heart of England Forest (HoEF), a charity which Felix established during his lifetime. This endowment will enable the charity to create Felix’s ambitious vision – planting and maintaining the largest contiguous, broadleaf woodland for public enjoyment that the UK has seen in a century. The sale ensures not just a bright future for all involved but will create a lasting and important legacy for future generations.”

UK, London

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Sinclair Broadcast Group to sell TV stations as part of Tribune acquisition

SinclairSinclair Broadcast Group Inc is selling 23 television stations to several companies after completing its $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.

The sales are to obtain the necessary governmental approval of the Tribune transaction, the company said, as it has worked for months to win regulatory approval for the deal.

Chris Ripley, President and CEO of Sinclair, said, “After a very robust divestiture process, with strong interest from many parties, we have achieved healthy multiples on the stations we are divesting. While we continue to believe that we had a strong and supportable rationale for not having to divest stations, we are happy to announce this significant step forward in our plan to create a leading broadcast platform with local focus and national reach. The combined company will continue to advance industry technology, including the Next Generation Broadcast Platform, and to benefit from significant revenue and expense synergies”.

Standard Media Group, an affiliate of Standard General L.P., will acquire the following nine television stations in seven markets for $441.7 million in cash:

KOKH-TV, Oklahoma City, OK (affiliated to FOX)
WXMI, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, MI (affiliated to FOX)
WPMT, Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, PA (affiliated to FOX)
WXLV-TV, Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, NC (affiliated to ABC)
WRLH-TV, Richmond-Petersburg, VA (affiliated to FOX)
WOLF-TV (1), Wilkes Barre-Hazelton-Scranton, PA (affiliated to FOX)
WSWB (1), Wilkes Barre-Hazelton-Scranton, PA (affiliated to CW)
WQMY (1), Wilkes Barre-Hazelton-Scranton, PA (affiliated to MY)
KDSM-TV, Des Moines-Ames, IA (affiliated to FOX)
(1) Sinclair is not the licensee of these stations and will only be selling the assets of such stations that Sinclair owns, together with its right to purchase the licenses of the stations.

Meredith Corp will acquire CW-affiliated KPLR-11 in St. Louis for $65 million. Additionally, three stations are going to Howard Stirk and two are going to shared services agreement partner Cunningham Media. The buyer for the remaining seven stations is yet to be named.

USA, Hunt Valley, MD & Washington, WA & St Louis, MO & Baltimore, MD

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Gfinity plc acquires RealSM Limited, owner of RealSport

GFinityGfinity plc, a leading international esports entertainment group, has acquired the entire issued share capital of RealSM Limited, owner of the fan-oriented digital sports media platform, RealSport, for a total consideration for approximately £2.4 million, to be settled wholly in new shares in Gfinity. The acquisition will be paid for by issuing 12.3 million Gfinity shares at 19.317 pence each. The share price was the average closing price over the last 15 days prior to the deal being announced.

Founded in January 2016, RealSport’s platform features original content, including news documentaries, podcasts, analysis and opinions. The company has rapidly built an online user base of more than half a million active monthly users with esports currently accounting for over 40% of all traffic on its website. Gfinity will use the RealSport platform alongside its own to build the esports community.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Gfinity will integrate RealSport’s online real estate into its business operations. Gfinity will also acquire the services of the team of seven key employees including the co-founders, Roei Samuel and Scott Hurst, together with their network of contributors, who have driven the rapid growth in the RealSport digital platform.

Gfinity Chief Executive Officer Neville Upton said, ”RealSport has done a great job of building a “go-to” hub for the esports community. They have a very talented team whose expertise in building a digital community will be very valuable to Gfinity. This deal will further help Gfinity continue to drive awareness and engagement in Gfinity and Elite Series brands. We believe this will accelerate Gfinity’s plans to monetise our digital assets and will greatly increase the value of our proposition to our prospective commercial partners.”

UK, London

Park Group and Studio Squared merge to form Tilt Creative + Production

Tilt CPFilm and video production firm Park Group and the content specialists from Studio Squared have merged as Tilt Creative + Production, a fully integrated creative and production firm formed to assist national and local clients with creation of traditional and digital video content.

Park GroupUnder the terms of the merger, Park Group founder Dave Trownsell and partner Stacy Murphy will hold a minority share of TiltCP, which is majority owned by former S2 president Ron Carey. Carey will serve as CEO of the combined entity, which employs just under 40 people.Studio Squared

“Combining as one allows us to concept a creative idea, produce that idea, edit that idea and pull it off through the efficiencies we gain by keeping the entire process in-house,” says Carey, who served as a senior vice president at The Martin Agency before joining S2 in 2014. “Content is proliferating across a number of traditional and digital channels and screen sizes, so we have built TiltCP to deliver a high volume of quality, creative content that remains reflective of every client’s brand.”

The Park and S2 merger comes as content demands for global brands are shifting away from traditional channels and moving onto a variety of digital platforms, streaming services, social media sites, and mobile devices. With the newfound demand comes the need for a high volume of creative production that must be met with speed and efficiency while still maintaining quality and ensuring that the client’s brand is accurately presented in the final product.

“As we have for over thirty years, our team will continue offering full-service production for television, film, and traditional advertising and marketing needs,” Trownsell says. “As we looked to the future of our industry, we recognized that we must also evolve and combine creative, strategy, production and post-production under one roof to offer clients a leaner and more responsive model to meet their needs.”

Founded in 1986, Park Group has become one of the largest media production groups in Virginia, offering national clients turnkey production and post-production services. S2 was formed by The Martin Agency in 2008 to produce digital point-of-sale, in-store advertising for major retailers and other businesses. The company was taken private this year by Carey, and several previous S2 employees have joined TiltCP. Clients include Walmart, Audi, Capital One, Ferguson Enterprises, and others.

USA, Richmond, VA

Newsquest to acquire regional media company CN Group

NewsquestNewsquest Media Group Ltd. is to acquire Cumbrian-based media company CN Group in a deal which is part of a larger, scaled operation by the board to better protect the long term future of the group, its staff and its pensioners. The business sold two of its local radio stations to Global Radio in the autumn. The terms of this transaction were not disclosed, but it is expected to complete shortly after shareholders meet on 9th March.

CN Group runs print, digital and event brands covering Cumbria, Northumberland, north Lancashire, and the Scottish Borders including several award-winning papers such as the News & Star, Cumberland News, Times & Star, The Whitehaven News, The Mail and Hexham Courant.

It also has a magazine division that includes Cumbria Life, Taste Cumbria, Bay Living, in-Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway Life, runs the Choose Cumbria marketing campaign, and events arm CN Events and a print division. It employs 324 people.

Henry Faure Walker, Newsquest chief executive, said: “We look forward to the opportunity of working with the CN Group, its staff and the community it represents in building on their great local brands and publishing expertise, and helping them forge a strong future. We will endeavour to support them with the scale and resources that Newsquest can provide, whilst enabling them to carry on what they have done so well for many years – namely providing first class content and advertising solutions for the people and businesses of Cumbria and the wider region.”

UK, Weybridge & Carlisle

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Will Packer Media acquires women’s lifestyle site xoNecole

Will PackerWill Packer Media has acquired xoNecole, a lifestyle site created by, and for, urban millennial women. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded by blogger Necole Kane, xoNecole’s mission is to promote positive images of women of colour, as well as empower, educate and inspire millennials through interviews, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, career and travel features. Kane’s initial gossip site, NecoleBitchie.com, launched in 2008. The site rebranded in 2015 to focus on universal themes important to young women.

The deal expands WPM’s media footprint with xoNecole becoming the company’s first owned and operated digital platform and complementing its existing strength in TV, digital and branded content production. WPM will implement an accelerated growth strategy for the cross-platform brand, expanding its video, social and mobile offerings, and building a branded newsletter and multi-faceted event series to further connect with its audience.

Will Packer, CEO and founder of Will Packer Media, said, “Necole is amazingly gifted in her ability to connect with women and deliver much needed engaging, smart and empowering content that is aspirational and impactful.”

USA, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY & Atlanta, GA

Aurelius acquires Connect Group’s Books division for £11.6M

Aurelius EquityAurelius Equity Opportunities the pan-European mid-market investor, has bought Connect Books from the specialist distribution company Connect Group Plc for £11.6 million. The sum includes an expected deferred consideration of £1.05 million.

Connect Books is a multi-channel wholesaler, distributor and retailer of printed and digital books, with operations in UK, the Netherlands, and France. The business has projected revenues of approximately EUR 250 million for 2017. The transaction is subject to the approval of the competition authorities and is expected to close in January 2018.

Connect Books is comprised of the six distinct brands Bertram Books, Wordery, Dawson Books, Erasmus and Houtschild, and Bertram Library Services. On completion, Connect Books will be rebranded back to Bertram Group.

Dirk Markus, CEO of Aurelius, commented: “We are very pleased to announce our acquisition of Connect Books, an established, global business and one of the market leaders in its sector. This acquisition is a further demonstration of AURELIUS’ position as a preferred partner for corporates seeking a complex carve-out of a non-core business”.

Germany, Munich & UK, London