Veronis Suhler Gets Xtreme –

At a time when media advertising revenue is reaching historical lows, 20-year-old media merchant bank and private equity investor Veronis Suhler has taken a majority interest in Xtreme Information Ltd., a London-based business information services company that monitors television and print advertising, news and advertising expenditures on a global basis.

Founded in 1983 (originally called TV Register), Xtreme says it’s the world’s largest archive of TV commercials, growing at the rate of 7,000 new spots each month, from 50 countries, and with ads going back to the 1950s.

Veronis Suhler made the investment for an undisclosed amount as part of a management buyout through its private equity affiliate, VS&A Communications Partners III, a $1 billion private equity fund the London and New York-based firm closed in 1999. Xtreme co-founder and CEO John Gordon will remain in place as the company’s chief executive, and will retain a percentage of the company.

“John Gordon is a perfect guy to back with a great team,” said Chris Russell, a principal with VS&A Communications Partners III. It was Russell and Stephen Warshaw, a managing director, who were principally behind putting together the Xtreme transaction.

“We look for companies with excellent management that are [striving] to grow aggressively and know their sector very well,” he said.

Xtreme’s revenue for 2001 is estimated to be GBP20 million, or about $29 million. The company derives its revenue from two lines of business, creative and editorial. Its creative division is an advertising monitoring service that tracks, digitizes, archives and distributes TV commercials and print advertising around the world. Half of its revenue is subscription-based from large corporate advertising and marketing departments, and the other half is derived from ad hoc requests from advertising agencies, according to company literature. Xtreme also operates an editorial division, which is a multi-media news clipping service.

Russell said there is some overlap with his firm’s existing clients, which will aid in Xtreme’s organic growth, while Veronis Suhler also has plans to acquire “a long list of potential companies.” He said commercial monitoring is also used as a vital part of business intelligence by companies looking to stay current with competitive advertising in multiple markets worldwide.

Previous investors in Xtreme include Dan Levin, the company’s co-founder and now a non-executive director; Mike Luckwell, founder of media conglomerate Carlton Communications PLC; and investment firm Mezzanine Management Ltd. Xtreme CFO Peter Banks and other key managers will retain a management interest.