Blue Ant acquires Saloon Media

Blue Ant MediaCanadian broadcaster, producer and distributor Blue Ant Media has acquired Toronto-based factual production company Saloon Media as part of its ongoing expansion in North America. The move will see Saloon’s CEO Michael Kot, executive producers Steve Gamester and Paul Kilback, and head of production Betty Orr join Blue Ant’s global production unit. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Blue Ant has already brought NHNZ (New Zealand), Beach House Pictures (Singapore), Antenna Pictures (London), Blue Ant Digital Studios (LA), Look Mom! Productions (Toronto) and Northern Pictures (Sydney) under the unit’s control in recent years.

Saloon launched in 2013, and recent credits include the CSA-nominated series Mummies Alive for History (Canada), Smithsonian Channel (US) and Yesterday (UK). It has also worked on Tornado Hunters for CMT, coproduced See No Evil for Investigation Discovery with UK indie Arrow Media, and made Hunting Nazi Treasure for History (Canada), American Heroes Channel (US) and More4 (UK).

Sam Sniderman, Blue Ant’s EVP global production, said, ““Blue Ant Media is committed to growing its content business in both Canada and the United States. The acquisition of Saloon Media is a key step in the execution of this strategy, as their award-winning factual content and notable creative talent fit perfectly within our content growth strategy in North America.”

Canada, Toronto

SiriusXM to acquire music-streaming company Pandora

SiriusXMSatellite radio company SiriusXM will acquire music streaming service Pandora in a transaction valued at $3.5 billion. The proposed deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, subject to the approval of Pandora stockholders.

The merger offers Sirius a major music-streaming asset as tens of millions of listeners turn to streaming apps in an increasingly crowded market, with Pandora enjoying the largest audio streaming audience in the U.S, according to industry estimates. Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited, have hitherto posed stiff competition.

The transaction would combine SiriusXM’s 36 million subscribers in North America with Pandora’s more than 70 million monthly active users. The two companies are expected to have combined revenue of about $7 billion this year. Pandora’s stock rose more than 3 percent in afternoon trading when the deal was announced.

Sirius XM’s chief executive Jim Meyer said of the two companies, “Together, we will deliver even more of the best content on radio to our passionate and loyal listeners, and attract new listeners, across our two platforms.” He also said his goal is to create value through subscriptions, “No matter who comes into one of our trial tunnels, no matter where they come in, our goal ought to be that as they exit that trial, somewhere somehow, they are in a funnel which we’re monetizing.”

USA, New York, NY & Oakland, CA

Sumo Group acquires The Chinese Room for £2.2M

Sumo GroupSumo Group, the award-winning provider of creative and development services to the video games and entertainment industries, has acquired The Chinese Room from founders Dan Pinchbeck and Jessica Curry for £2.2 million, of which £1.6 million in cash, with the remaining £0.6 million paid through the issue of new shares in Sumo.

As an award-winning independent game developer, The Chinese Room is best known for creating the innovative games ‘Dear Esther’, ‘Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs’, the genre-defining ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’ and Google Daydream exclusive ‘So Let Us Melt’.

Dan will take the role of Creative Director of The Chinese Room, while Jessica will continue her career independently as a composer.

The Chinese Room will operate as part of Sumo Digital, becoming its fifth studio and fourth in the UK. Sumo Group intends to invest in The Chinese Room and continue development of current projects by building its team and collaborating with other Sumo Digital studios.

Carl Cavers, CEO of Sumo Group, said, “I am really pleased that Dan has chosen to join Sumo Group. We believe Dan’s renowned creative abilities will add real value to Sumo Group. The Chinese Room has an outstanding reputation and its acquisition will enhance and extend Sumo Digital’s capabilities. Having a studio in the south of England opens new doors for the Group and we are confident that it will create exciting opportunities.

This acquisition follows the addition of the studio in Newcastle, formerly CCP Games, in January this year, and the Nottingham studio that opened in 2016.

UK, Sheffield & Brighton

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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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Vitesse Media to buy InvestmentNews for $27.1M

Vitesse Media plcDigital media and events company Vitesse Media is to acquire InvestmentNews, a leading source of news, analysis and information to the financial advisory community from its parent, Crain Communications Inc., for approximately $27.1 million. The deal is expected to close mid-August.

As part of the deal, InvestmentNews’ leadership team will remain intact — as will its award-winning editorial, multimedia, audience, custom, research & data, marketing, sales and event divisions.

Crain launched InvestmentNews in 1997 as a weekly magazine covering the U.S. financial advice profession. InvestmentNews has since expanded its engagement with its core audience through the launch of an award-winning website, live events and research and data offerings. Today, InvestmentNews is the No. 1 media brand in the financial advice market, with more than 150,000 weekly print readers. InvestmentNews.com garners an average of 545,000 unique visitors each month. In addition, InvestmentNews operates a growing events business, which includes the Retirement Income Summit, Woman Adviser Summit and Best Practices Workshop. It is also produces editorial and custom research relevant to advisers and the businesses that serve them.

Simon Stilwell, who was appointed CEO of Vitesse in August 2017, said, “InvestmentNews is the leading brand in its community, it fits well into the Vitesse stable and provides the company with the opportunity to pursue other bolt on opportunities to expand, especially in its events and data business. Its American presence further allows us to expand our reach geographically, a key aspect of our future strategy.”

Upon completion of the deal, Vitesse will change its name to Bonhill Group plc, subject to shareholders’ approval.

UK, London & USA, New York, NY

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Nine Entertainment to take over Fairfax media in estimated A$4BN deal

Nine EntertainmentAustralia’s Nine Entertainment is to take over Fairfax Media, for an estimated A$4 billion. The television network will take a controlling 51.1% stake in the newly merged company, which will be renamed NEC, or Nine Entertainment Company. Nine will acquire all of Fairfax’s shares and take a controlling 51.1% share in the new business, which will be called NEC. Under the terms of the proposed transaction, Fairfax shareholders will receive 0.3627 Nine shares for each Fairfax share held and $0.025 cash. It represents a 21.9% premium to Fairfax’s closing share price of 77c on 25 July 2018.

Hugh Marks of Nine will be the new chief executive and Peter Costello, the Nine chairman, will now lead the board of the new business.

Costello said, “Both Nine and Fairfax have played an important role in shaping the Australian media landscape over many years. The combination of our businesses and our people best positions us to deliver new opportunities and innovations for our shareholders, staff, and all Australians in the years ahead.”

Marks added, “The ground-breaking merger – harnessing the strength, assets, quality and reach of two of the country’s most famous industry brands – is another highly significant step in the evolution of Nine’s business into one of the most powerful media organisations in the country. The scope of this deal is genuinely quite breathtaking. In addition to our existing television and digital businesses, the new NEC will also become the proprietor of the iconic Fairfax mastheads as well as the new majority owner of Domain (60%) and the Macquarie Radio Network (54.5%)“.

Fairfax Chief Executive Officer Greg Hywood said, “The proposed transaction for Fairfax reflects the success of Fairfax’s transformation strategy which has created value for shareholders through targeted investment in high growth businesses, such as Domain and Stan, and prudent management of our media assets. The combination with Nine provides an exciting opportunity to continue to drive incremental value well into the future. We are confident that the strength of the combined management team and staff will ensure the continuation of our quality journalism.”

Australia, Sydney

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DVV acquires Smart Rail World

DVV Media InternationalRailway Gazette’s parent company DVV Media International has purchased events and digital media business Smart Rail World Ltd and its subsidiary Global Transport Forum Ltd. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The London-based business manages a suite of international events in the rail and transport sector including Smart Rail, Smart Transit, Smart Metro, Safe Rail and the Transport Security Congress. It also publishes industry news at www.smartrailworld.com.

DVV Media International Managing Director Andy Salter said, ‘This is a very exciting acquisition for us. We have been building our portfolio across digital media and events and the Smart Rail World business strategically aligns with our other transport and logistics products. This is a very powerful group of events and there’s a great team of people at the company. We are looking forward to working with them and seeing this business division develop strongly.’

UK, London

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