The last few tradional B2B brands in the UBM empire are funding new homes – even if the brands’ own management have to buy them.
The management of Travel Trade Gazette, one of the three titles put up for sale by UBM in June as part of a long-running shrinkage of its Marketing division, are in talks to stage a management buyout, the TTG site reported today.
Brand director Daniel Pearce is leading the negotiations. He says:
It’s fitting that in our 60th year TTG is now looking forward to a new beginning. We have exciting plans to build on TTG’s position in the market in 2014 and look forward to working closer than ever with the travel industry, in the UK and beyond.
Subject to the usual “transfer of ownship” staff consultations, the TTG talks are described as on-going. But UBM has told its investors it’s going to sell the titles it has no strategic reason to keep sometime soon – so the talks will be in a context of both sides seeking a speedy resolution.
Last month UBM sold Property Week to Metropolis Media for an undisclosed fee. Building Design, another title up for sale, remains on the shelf so far.
Is this MBO a signal about the wider market and the opportunities for small scale M&A for legacy B2B brands? We don’t know whether potential buyers were interested or not, but the MBO route is becoming popular.
EMAP sold Broadcast and its related brands to a management team lead by Conor Dignam in 2012. The plan was, as he told us then, to take Broadcast outside of the EMAP/Top Right Group stable to more effectively attract a corporate buyer. Nearly 12 months on, that hasn’t happened yet.
In May, the British Journal of Photography was taken over by its management, but parent company Incisive Media kept a stake and offered office space. It’s a handy way to sell a business while also giving it a hand.
There is much B2B M&A action in the air. Yesterday, Top Right Group announced the sale of Infrastructure Journal to cash-rich Euromoney, while many other trade media businesses are looking to sell as they reformat their portfolios for a data-driven age.
It looks as if there are far more sellers than realistic buyers, making the MBO a sensible option and perhaps an increasingly common one.
Image by steve contry on Flickr via a Creative Commons licence