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After weeks of rumors that an announcement was imminent, this time it appears to be the case: paidContent has learned that a group led by James Finkelstein and Pluribus Capital Management has acquired a half-dozen titles from Nielsen, including Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek, Mediaweek, Brandweek and Backstage. As Rafat was first first to report, Lachlan Murdoch and his Illyria investment company were interested in the deal and he was supposed to be part of the final group. We can also report a third party is in the mix: a large fund acting as senior lender and equity provider. The announcement could come as soon as tomorrow. We have reached out to some of the parties but have not heard back.
The deal price is not easy to pin down. We’ve been told reports of $70 million are too low and that they’re being valued as premium brands with higher multiples if “entire value” is considered, but the actual number is elusive so far. The deal includes the print titles, websites and trade shows. The magazines are largely paid circulation, not controlled. Billboard has a “very lucrative” licensing business, unlike most business titles. Speaking of which, one bit about the price someone was willing to confirm: Nielsen will net considerably more than McGraw-Hill’s $5 million after-tax cash from the sale of BusinessWeek to Bloomberg.
Nielsen is keeping its larger trader show and exhibition business. One related title not included: Editor & Publisher. A source familiar with the buyers’ plans said they hope to develop THR and Billboard in the consumer space. The source also said the plans would require some additional investment.
Pluribus also includes Matthew Doull, former associate publisher of Wired (and also has been on the board of Finkelstein’s News Communications); and George Green, the former CEO of Hearst Magazines International who retired earlier this year. The bank representing Nielsen is Quayle Munro, led by John Wickersham