Apax Looks to Future With Magazines Buyout

Pearson’s consumer magazine business was sold in April to Apax Partners and management for GBP142 million (ecu 212 million), including GBP125 million cash and profit-related deferred consideration payments totalling an estimated GBP17 million.

The businesses acquired include the UK consumer magazine publisher Future Publishing; French computing magazine publisher Edicorp Publications; and the Futurenet commercial website business. Together, these businesses comprise one of the fastest-growing consumer publishing groups in Europe. In 1997, the three operations achieved combined operating profits of GBP9.9 million on sales of GBP81.5 million.

Future Publishing, the fifth largest consumer magazine publisher in the UK in terms of the value of copies sold, concentrates principally on the computing, craft, music, sport and entertainment sectors, with a stable of titles including PC Format, PC Plus, .net, Official Playstation, Cross Stitcher, Total Guitar, Mountain Biking UK and Total Film.

Edicorp is France’s leading computing magazine publisher; its stable includes the PC Achat, Windows News and Total Play titles.

Futurenet is a dedicated on-line electronic publisher of special interest consumer content.

The management team was led by chief executive Greg Ingham. Future Publishing’s original founder, Chris Anderson, who sold the company to Pearson in 1994, is also backing the deal as non-executive chairman.

Full funding details of the buyout have not been disclosed. Apax, which invested through its UK, French and German funds alongside funds managed by Patricof & Co Ventures, holds a 90% stake in the business. Citibank arranged mezzanine and senior debt facilities for the deal.

Apax director Barbara Manfrey said “Apax sees this investment as providing a platform on which we can use our experience in Europe’s media sector to help build a leading European consumer magazine publishing group”.