Apax Partners approaches EMAP

EMAP’s announcement on July 27 that it was to undergo a review that could lead to “a possible sale or demerger of some or all of its constituent businesses” may have caused a flurry of activity within the publishing and private equity worlds.

The media group confirmed that the review was prompted by unsolicited approaches the business had received and it has since emerged that Apax Partners was among the possible suitors.

Apax Partners approached the radio and magazine group regarding the acquisition of its cherished business-to-business arm for about £1.3bn (€1.92bn), although there is reportedly no concrete deal proposal at this stage.

The prized division, which publishes titles such as Retail Week and Nursing Times, includes its trade magazine and conference and events activities, and accounted for 32% of revenues and 45% of profits last year.

The EMAP division would be an attractive fit with Apax Partners’ existing business-to-business interests, the latter having led the £199m buyout of UK publishing group Incisive Media in September last year.

Incisive Media also announced plans last month to acquire American Lawyer Media, the media company owned by M&A dealmaker Bruce Wasserstein for £310m.

Other parties that are being mooted as possible acquirers of EMAP’s business-to-business unit are United Business Media and Future Publishing.

EMAP, which owns titles such as Grazia as well as radio stations including Magic FM and Kiss FM, has been the subject of increasing speculation regarding a break-up of the group but the latest move is contrary to the position taken by executive chairman Alun Cathcart two months ago, when he pledged to keep the group whole.

EMAP has appointed Lazard and Citi to advise on the review.

Deborah Cust