Future plc acquires Dennis from Exponent Private Equity for £300 million

Future plc has acquired media subscriptions business Dennis from Exponent Private Equity LLP, for approximately £300 million.

The titles being acquired by Future are: The Week UK / The Week US, The Week Junior UK / The Week Junior US, MoneyWeek, Kiplinger, Science & Nature, IT Pro, Computer Active, PC Pro, Minecraft World, and Coach.

The four titles not being acquired by Future – Viz, Fortean Times, Cyclist and Expert Reviews – will be retained by the Vendors.

Dennis demonstrated strong growth in its financial year to 31 December 2020, reporting revenue of £104.8m, up 12% on 2019, and adjusted EBITDA of £20.0m, up 14% on 2019. This growth has continued into 2021 with revenue growth of 16% in the twelve months ended June 2021. Gross assets as at 30 June 2021 were £210m.

Expected cost synergies are £5m per annum, to be achieved by FY2023. They represent 25% of Dennis’ FY2020 EBITDA.

The purchase price of approximately £300m is to be satisfied in cash on completion (expected on 1 October 2021), subject to normal closing adjustments. Under the terms of the acquisition, the Vendors have agreed to pay Future a minimum of £8m and a maximum of £10m within 12 months of completion.

The acquisition is being funded via the Group’s debt facility, which was increased to £600m in July 2021 via an amend and extend exercise.

Zillah Byng-Thorne, CEO of Future, said: “I am delighted to announce the acquisition of a high-quality portfolio of Dennis’ trusted brands that will accelerate our strategy, enhance our content capabilities and bring additional geographical and vertical revenue diversification, whilst materially increasing the proportion of recurring revenues across the Group.

“The materially earnings enhancing acquisition is highly complementary to our longstanding ‘US first’ mindset and provides an attractive opportunity to scale our recently created ‘Wealth’ vertical, whilst diversifying our presence in our ‘Knowledge’ and ‘B2B Pro Technology’ verticals.

“I look forward to welcoming our new colleagues to Future, and to continuing the successful execution of our strategy to generate long-term sustainable growth and attractive returns for our shareholders.”

James Tye, CEO of Dennis, said: “In the three years that the business has been owned by Exponent, Dennis has been on an incredible growth journey, delivering double digit increases in subscription revenues, a greatly increased US footprint; and significant bottom-line increases. This is a testament to the talented team at Dennis who have helped make all of this happen.

“We look forward to working with the team at Future to continue growing the reach, influence and value of all our key brands and businesses.”

UK, London

Sovereign Capital Partners backs AquaQ Analytics

Sovereign Capital Partners have backed AquaQ Analytics, a specialist data analytics and data science services business supporting global financial institutions. Sovereign has partnered with the management team to further grow the company’s international presence and develop its range of services. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2011, AquaQ works with its clients to optimise, develop and maintain their database technologies and take advantage of advanced data and analytics. The company, has long-term relationships with a number of leading financial institutions. It also has its own proprietary suite of software tools, TorQ.

AquaQ ‘s headquarters are in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The company has offices in the USA, Singapore and Hong Kong and employs over 180 staff.

Sovereign is backing founders Ronan Pairceir and James Bradley. Guy Warren joins the business as non-executive Chair. Guy is CEO of technology business ITRS, a former NED of White Clarke Group, ex-COO of FTSE Group and EVP of Misys Banking.

Uk, London & Belfast

Providence acquires CloserStill Media for £340M

Providence EquityFollowing our earlier report, Providence Equity Partners has now acquired CloserStill Media, the previous owner of Clarion Events, for a reported £340 million.

The move comes after years of significant growth for the organiser, which was valued at £25 million in 2012 when Phoenix Private Equity bought into the company and £125 million in 2015 when Inflexion bought a minority stake.

Since the Inflexion investment in 2015 the organiser has made eight acquisitions – five in 2017 and three in 2018 – but CloserStill Chairman and CEO Phil Soar highlighted that the majority of the company’s growth has been organic. Much of the growth has come from the geo-cloning of successful shows in Asia, Germany and the US, with the launch of events such as Cloud Asia, Learning Technologies Germany and New York Vet.

In 2011 Providence acquired George Little Management in the US, which was then sold to Emerald Expositions in early 2014. In 2017 the company sold Clarion Events to Blackstone for a reported £600 million.

Andrew Tisdale, Managing Director at Providence, said, “CloserStill is an exceptional business led by a strong management team with a proven track record of developing and acquiring successful events around the world. With a compelling global portfolio and diverse customer base across the technology, learning and healthcare sectors, CloserStill is well-positioned to accelerate the momentum the business has generated to date. We are excited to partner with such a fantastic team and look forward to working together.”

USA, Providence, RI & UK, London

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Providence exhibits £300m bid for London Vet Show owner

Providence EquityProvidence Equity Partners , the private equity firm behind Ambassador Theatre Group, is in talks to buy exhibitions group CloserStill Media for about £300m, according to a report by Sky News.

CloserStill is being sold by Inflexion, another buyout firm, which backed the company in 2015. A significant proportion of CloserStill’s revenues come from outside the UK, with exhibitions such as Dentiste Expo in Paris and Cloud Expo Asia in Singapore among its events. The deal with Providence, which could be signed within weeks, follows the investor’s £600m sale of Clarion to Blackstone last year.

 

USA, Providence, RI & UK, London

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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Consortium to buy Dun & Bradstreet for $6.9BN

Dun & BradstreetAn investor group led by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners LP is to acquire financial services firm Dun & Bradstreet in a take-private deal valued at $5.4 billion, excluding debt.

Under the buyout agreement, shareholders of the 177-year-old Short Hills, N.J., financial-services company will receive $145 in cash for each share of common stock they own, Dun & Bradstreet said late Wednesday in a news release. That represents a premium of about 30% over its closing share price of $111.63 on Feb. 12, the last trading day before the company said it planned a strategic review of the business.

Thomas J. Manning, Dun & Bradstreet’s chief executive, said that the deal is the “culmination of a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the value creation opportunities available to the company as part of a full portfolio and business assessment and exploration of strategic alternatives with multiple financial sponsors”. Mr. Manning and James N. Fernandez, a director of the firm, will serve as CEO and chairman, respectively, through the deal’s closing, Dun & Bradstreet said.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed company will become privately held after the closing of the deal, which it values at $6.9 billion including the assumption of $1.5 billion of Dun & Bradstreet’s net debt and net pension obligations.

“As a private company, Dun & Bradstreet will be well positioned to reinvigorate growth and create increased value for all stakeholders,” said Thomas Hagerty, a managing director at private-equity firm Thomas H. Lee.

The deal will be financed through a combination of committed equity financing provided by the investor group, as well as debt financing that has been committed to by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Inc. and RBC Capital Markets, Dun & Bradstreet said.

Dun & Bradstreet said its board is unanimously recommending that shareholders vote to adopt the agreement a coming special meeting. The deal is expected to close within six months, subject to shareholder approval, regulatory and other customary conditions, Dun & Bradstreet said.

However, the agreement also provides for a 45-day “go-shop” period to draw more potential buyers, the company said.

Dun & Bradstreet said it would have the right to terminate the deal agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to certain conditions and procedures.

JPMorgan is serving as financial adviser to the company. Financial advisers to the buyer include BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and RBC Capital Markets, Dun & Bradstreet said.

The company has also released second-quarter earnings, saying it recorded net income of $93 million, or earnings per share of $2.50, on revenue of $439.6 million.

USA, Short Hills, NJ & New York, NY

Bridgepoint Development Capital to acquire Private Equity International

BridgepointBridgepoint Development Capital is to acquire a majority stake in PEI Media – the global provider of insight, market-data and business conferences for professionals active in alternative asset class investment. Details of the transaction were not disclosed. The business is being acquired from its founders, management and minority shareholder, LDC.

PEI Media focuses on private investment markets in real estate, infrastructure, private equity, and private debt – including specialist sector-specific activities within those private asset markets. The group has developed deep connections with international sources of alternative investment capital since its inception in 2001. Clients served include public sector and company pension plans, insurance groups, endowments and family offices – as well as leading private-asset fund managers who raise and deploy capital raise from institutional investors.

PEI was formed following a management buyout from Euromoney Institutional Investor plc. It has grown a diversified portfolio of alternative asset-focused publications, databases and branded events. Headquartered in London with offices in Hong Kong and New York, the company currently employs around 180 people and has clients based in over 80 countries. The company’s publications include PERE, Infrastructure Investor, Private Debt Investor, Private Equity International, Real Estate Capital, Private Funds Management, Agri Investor and Secondaries Investor, amongst others.

BDC Partner Robin Lawson said, “PEI is recognised for its differentiated insight into the worlds of multiple alternative asset classes. As investors look for higher yields, continued inflows into these classes means that there is growing demand for the information, analysis and event-networking opportunities of providers like PEI. Today’s investment by BDC will support the continued international expansion of the business as well as further development of its technology platform and digital product set. Our aim in working with PEI’s management will be to ensure that it remains best-placed to scale its digital offering in a growing market and deliver progressive evolution of its specialist-brand in line with advancing client needs. In this way, we expect that increasingly sophisticated customers, both existing and new, will remain able to access the information and market connections they increasingly need to be successful in their global alternative investment strategies.”

UK, London

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AgriBriefing rumoured to be up for sale

AgriBriefingBetaville is reporting that agribusiness media, price reporting and intelligence company AgriBriefing is about to be sold by its private equity owners, Lyceum Capital.

AgriBriefing creates and sells prices for eggs, red meat and animal feed and publishes the Farmers Guardian. The company also runs Britain’s largest farm machinery and equipment show – Lamma.

Reports suggest that Lyceum is unlikely to begin a sale process until later this year or early 2019 as it has just appointed Raymond James to carry out a strategic review.

UK, London

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Phoenix invests in Capital Economics

Phoenix Equity PartnersPrivate equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners has acquired a controlling stake in independent research company Capital Economics. Phoenix’s investment, which values the business at circa £95m, will be made alongside the existing management team and shareholders. Roger Bootle will retain a significant stake in the business.

Capital Economics is one of the leading independent macro-economic research companies in the world. Their team of more than 60 experienced economists provide award-winning macro-economic, financial markets and sectoral analysis, forecasts and consultancy from offices in London, New York, Toronto, Singapore and Sydney. The business provides research subscriptions, data and events to approximately 1,500 global institutions.

Capital Economics’ existing backer LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, will exit its minority stake. Since their investment in October 2014, the business has grown revenues by 30% to over £22.5m in its latest financial year, launched several new services and opened new offices in New York and Sydney. It has expanded the team by 30% to over 140 employees across its five locations.

The investment by Phoenix will allow Capital Economics to continue to accelerate its growth. Phoenix’s support will enable investments in new services and in technology to enhance and personalise client delivery. A number of potential acquisitions have also been identified.

Chris Neale, Partner at Phoenix, said: ‘Capital Economics is an exceptional business with outstanding economists and staff, and an unrivalled reputation for macro-economic insight. It has grown every year since inception, building up a global base of loyal repeat clients. Demand for high quality, independent research continues to increase and we are excited about the future potential of the business. We look forward to working with Bob and the team to help accelerate growth over the coming years.’

UK, London

Euromoney acquires European investment industry survey Extel

EuromoneyEuromoney Institutional Investor PLC, the international business information and events group, has acquired 100% of the business and assets of Extel from WeConvene. Extel will be integrated into Euromoney’s Institutional Investor Research business which is well known for its sell-side analyst and corporate IR performance research and rankings, and strengthens further Institutional Investor’s asset management offering. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Extel runs the annual independent survey of quality across the European equities investment community. The Extel Survey began in 1974 and in 2017 over 15,500 investment professionals cast 1.1 million votes across the investment industry, providing a huge dataset to help clients analyse and drive their market understanding.

The acquisition of Extel fits within Euromoney’s strategy of investing in its main themes, specifically asset management. Extel is deeply embedded in the equities investment community and its complementary data sets and highly valued analytics and insights will support the transition of Institutional Investor to a next generation 3.0 business model.

Will Rowlands-Rees, MD of Institutional Investor Research, said: “Although a small business, Extel has a strong reputation in the European market, and is highly complementary to our existing Institutional Investor Research offerings. By integrating these businesses, we will create a unique bulge bracket through domestic broker view of research product evaluation in the European market at a time of tremendous market change driven by MiFID II. I look forward to leveraging our shared expertise and knowledge, and partners in the investment community to build a stronger and broader set of capabilities across our portfolio of products to help with these challenges.”

UK, London

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