VSS Closes $1.3B Media Fund

Firm: Veronis Suhler Stevenson

Fund: VSS Communication Partners IV

Target: $1.25 billion

Amount Closed: $1.3 billion

Veronis Suhler Stevenson recently secured $1.3 billion for its fourth buyout fund focused on middle-market companies in the media, communications and information industries.

The New York-based firm sent out offering documents in 2004 with a $1.25 billion target and then held a series of rolling closes that were expected to culminate in a final close at the end of last year. The deadline was extended to accommodate some investors.

“We had two public pension systems – returning LPs from New Mexico and New York City – that had some time constraints,” said James Rutherfurd, managing director of LP communications with VSS. “But we had held interim closes and began doing deals out of the fund last year.”

The largest of those deals was the acquisition of German daily newspaper Berliner Verlag, which subsequently bought German tabloid Hamburger Morgenpost. Other Fund IV portfolio companies include educational publisher Grenada Learning Ltd., Phoenix radio station KEDJ-FM, reference materials provider InfoBase Publishing, and multiplex cinema operator Southern Theaters LLC.

VSS skews toward old media because most new media companies are too young to fit a buyout profile. However, Rutherfurd said that the firm has a handful of new media portfolio companies that have emerged from old media beginnings. PreVisor Inc., for example, was formed via simultaneous acquisitions of Qwiz Inc. and ePredix Inc., and provides online pre-employment testing and assessment services for such clients as SunGlass Huts and BJ’s Wholesale Club.

“Some of the companies we like have been around for a while but are more interesting today than they were five or 10 years ago because of how they have embraced Internet technologies,” Rutherfurd explained.

VSS now has raised five funds, including a $1.02 billion fund raised in 1998. It also closed a $123 million non-captive mezzanine fund in 2004. —D.P.