British private equity firm Alchemy Partners is said to be seeking a £100 million sale of London-based business media publisher Incisive Media. Turnaround specialist Alchemy had acquired a majority stake in the company via a debt-for-equity swap, in January 2015.

Alchemy and Incisive are working with M&A adviser Arma Partners “on a strategic review that is expected to lead to an auction process,” The Sunday Times reported.

Incisive Media is a business to business (B2B) information and events company founded by Tim Weller, in 1994 with the launch of Investment Week. The company embarked on a series of acquisitions, went public on the London Stock Exchange in December 2000, and was subsequently taken private in a leveraged management buyout backed by private equity firm Apax Partners, which invested more than £200 million to acquire the company in December 2006.

Through additional bolt-on acquisitions, including a $600 million buyout of American Lawyer Media (ALM) in 2007, the company reportedly reached at its peak an enterprise value of over $1 billion, and was considered one of the UK’s largest publishers of professional magazines.

However, as a result of its unsustainable debt after the global financial crisis, the company handed over an 82.5 percent stake to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in a debt-for-equity swap in October 2009. RBS sold its Incisive stake to Alchemy and other minority investors, including Bayside Capital, Legico, an affiliate of the private equity group Permira, and Bank of Ireland, in January 2015.

In September 2015, Incisive Media sold its private equity portfolio including AVCJ and Unqoute to Mergermarket Group, and in the same month Contentive acquired Accountancy Age and Financial Director.

In June 2015, Incisive, which alongside Risk.net also owns the Waters technology publications and the insurance magazine Post, bought Chartis, a specialist provider of compliance and risk technology research.

In January 2016, Incisive sold Legal Week to ALM, which itself was spun off from Incisive as part of the 2009 RBS restructuring deal.

Alchemy, founded in 1997, specializes in investing in distressed and undervalued or underperforming businesses and other special situations through debt and equity across Europe. Since inception the firm has invested over £3bn in over 140 transactions. Investments have been made across Europe into a broad range of sectors and throughout capital structures. The firm currently advises over £500m of assets held in the Alchemy Investment Plan and over £1.1bn of assets in the Alchemy Special Opportunities funds. Alchemy is currently investing from its £600m Alchemy Special Opportunities Fund III, raised in March 2014.

Photo: Incisive Media voted as the UK’s best digital publisher (B2B) at the annual 2016 AOP Digital Publishing awards. (July 14, 2016)

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