There are potential bidders, and then there are hopes that there may be potential bidders. And that is a key difference that will determine the fate of BusinessWeek, which was officialy put up for sale by parent McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP) earlier this month. As the banker Evercore Partners has started the process, names of four “potential bidders” have leaked out — OpenGate Capital, Bruce Wasserstein, Platinum Equity, Warburg Pincus — courtesy of BW’s own Jon Fine. And he also mentions in his latest report that more than half-dozen parties will meet with the management during this initial process.
And while that may look like a lot for the beleaguered magazine — print-ad revenue exceeded $109 million in 2006 but is projected to fall to $59.7 million in 2009 — it is merely a smokescreen, intended to drum up more interest than there really is. I have learned that out of the four names that have come out, one has decided not to proceed after the presentation, and another is almost certain not to proceed either (I can’t point out which ones because that would compromise the sources). And this is even before the formal bidding process has started. In the end, the vulture equity players may be the only ones left in the field, with a fate similar to TV Guide magazine looking more likely. Unless the bank and the company broadens its horizon and comes up with creative ideas, including staple financing (it didn’t work in Reed Business’ sale process last year) and bringing in more foreign players beyond the one that’s part of the lineup currently.