Freeman acquires Info Salons

FreemanBrand experience company Freeman has acquired digital technology company Info Salons, a leading provider of registration and attendee database management solutions. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With the acquisition, Freeman will benefit from Info Salons’ nearly 30 years of experience in the industry and its event technology solutions which aim to improve online and on-site registration processes and unlock attendee data and sales leads for show organizers. Going forward, Info Salons applications and tools will be fully integrated into the digital solutions offered by Freeman.

Richard Maranville, chief digital officer at Freeman, said, “We’re always looking for ways to simplify the event and show planning processes for our clients; and investing in leading digital technologies enables us to provide the robust capabilities show organizers need to thrive in the ever-evolving events industry. With the integration of Info Salons’ digital tools into our event management offerings, we’ll be better equipped to help our clients get the most out of their attendee data.”

USA, Dallas, TX & Australia, Surry Hills

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

Future plc acquires five specialist consumer titles from Haymarket Media Group for £14M

Future plcFuture plc, the global platform for specialist media, is to acquire five specialist consumer titles from Haymarket Media Group – What Hi-Fi?, Stuff, FourFourTwo, Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome – for a consideration of up to £14 million, the majority of which is in the form of cash, with the balance in shares. The titles generated revenue of £12 million in the last financial year to June 2017. The consideration shares are subject to lock-up restrictions for three months from the date of issue.

The intended acquisition of popular brand What Hi-Fi? provides an entry into the complementary audio visual market, whilst Stuff complements Future’s existing technology brands. The acquisition of Stuff is conditional on Competition and Markets Authority approval. FourFourTwo will give Future access to the football audience during World Cup Year, whilst Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome provide a strong subscriptions proposition in the outdoor leisure market.

Zillah Byng-Thorne, CEO of Future, said, “This acquisition is a further demonstration of our strategy to develop evergreen content that connects with communities and further diversifies our revenue streams. These titles are well established brands with strong market positions that expand and enhance our presence in existing verticals and extend our reach into new communities. We have a strong track record of integrating and leveraging acquisitions and we are confident that this deal will be earnings enhancing and drive further growth in operating profitability and cash generation.”

UK, Bath & London

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Silver Lake Partners and Battery Ventures to acquire EDR from DMGT for $205M

Silver LakeSilver Lake and Battery Ventures have agreed to acquire EDR, a leading provider of real estate data and software-as-a-service, from the Daily Mail and General Trust plc for $205m. The investors areBattery Ventures global, growth-oriented firms focused on partnerships with market-leading technology companies. The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks and is subject to
customary closing conditions.

EDR is a leader in property due-diligence and risk management technology and information. The company’s solutions enable clients — including environmental consultants and engineers, appraisers, and lenders — to manage real estate due diligence processes efficiently and effectively.

Joe Osnoss, Managing Director at Silver Lake, said, ”The real estate sector is continuing to evolve with the introduction of new technologies. EDR has a rich history of thought leadership in this area, and we plan to invest behind the company’s developing product roadmap to serve its important client ecosystem.”

Battery Ventures General Partner Scott Tobin added, ”We look forward to working closely with Chris Aronson and EDR’s management team. We believe that our investment will enable EDR to accelerate growth — including in the state-of-the-art Collateral360 SaaS platform — and extend its reputation as a leader in real estate data and software with a developing range of products and services.”

UK, London & USA, Shelton, CT

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Huntsworth acquires media strategy company AboveNation

HuntsworthHuntsworth plc, the international healthcare and communications group, has acquired 75% of AboveNation Media from Steve Minichini and John Lee for an initial consideration of $1.75m.

AboveNation Media is a New York-based full-service media strategy, planning and buying agency. AboveNation Media will provide integrated advertising technology solutions across Huntsworth’s Evoke Group business. AboveNation Media will continue to be led by its CEO, Steve Minichini and its President, John Lee and will report to Reid Connolly, CEO of Evoke Group.

The agreement to acquire 75% of AboveNation Media provides for an initial consideration of $1.75m and two deferred payments due in 2019 and 2021, based on a multiple of the EBITDA for the preceding years.

In addition, the agreement provides for a put and call option over the remaining 25% of AboveNation Media exercisable by the sellers or the Group from 1 January 2023. The consideration payable will be based on average EBITDA for the two calendar years immediately preceding.

The initial consideration will be financed through the Group’s existing facilities. Both the deferred consideration and the put and call option consideration payable, may be satisfied either in cash and/or ordinary shares of the Company.

The maximum amount of total consideration payable is capped at $25m.

AboveNation Media generated revenues of c. $1.3m and EBITDA of c. $0.5m in the year to 31 December 2017 and the Group expects the acquisition to be accretive to the Group’s earnings in the current financial year. AboveNation Media’s gross assets were $4.2m as at 31 December 2017.

Mr Connolly said, “The convergence of media and technology has changed the way brands and companies connect with their customers. AboveNation Media is a perfect strategic fit within our group and strengthens our commitment to a culture of innovation and accountability. By integrating the emotional insights that fuel great creative with advanced media strategy and technology, we not only create a more nimble and agile offering but we’re able to create smarter, harder working creative. Collectively we offer our clients the ability to engage and build more valuable relationships and to do so in the most advanced, efficient and, most importantly, transparent way possible.”

UK, London & New York, NY

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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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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