Thomson Media draws 5 bids

Thomson Media draws 5 bids

Byline: Peter Lauria

At least five buyout shops submitted bids for Thomson Corp.’s group of print-based, advertising-dependent financial magazines Oct. 4, according to sources familiar with the Morgan Stanley-run auction.

Among the bidders are Apprise Media, fronted by former Primedia Inc. president Charles McCurdy and backed by Spectrum Equity Investors; Citigroup Venture Capital in conjunction with former Advanstar CEO Robert Krakoff; the private equity arm of Credit Suisse First Boston along with MidOcean Partners LLP; Investcorp; and U.S. Equity Partners (U.S. Equity Partners is the fund that owns The Deal LLC).

Tuesday, Oct. 5, was the deadline for the second round of bids. Thomson received a first round of offers in August.

Early round participants J.P. Morgan Partners and Veronis Suhler Stevenson are believed to have dropped out .

Sources familiar with the bidding said they could not handicap the action because the values of the latest offers were unclear.

“How do you know who’s up and who’s down without knowing what they bid?” asked one perplexed source.

This source and others did say, however, that based on previous bids the group should sell for at least $250 million. That price would parallel recent magazine industry deal multiples of between 8 and 12 times Ebitda.

Several factors — ranging from the size of Thomson’s platform to the competitiveness of the auction to the pressure on the private equity firms to put their money to work — could goose valuations higher. So, too, could Bruce Wasserstein’s U.S. Equity Partners. (Bruce Wasserstein is the chairman of The Deal LLC.)

“Wasserstein’s the wild card,” said a magazine industry source. Citing the $55 million Wasserstein paid to acquire New York magazine in December 2003, this source said that if Wasserstein wants something bad enough, “he can pay a big price again.” And as the only one in the contingent of known bidders to already have a publishing platform in place, Wasserstein could pay more than the others if only because he can combine Thomson Media with his existing properties to more effectively strip out costs.

Then again, Thomson Media is sizable enough to be its own platform, which a buyer could then use to pursue bolt-on acquisitions. That rationale led one source to caution against counting out Citigroup Venture Capital.

Thomson began shopping the group, which houses such titles as American Banker, The Bond Buyer, Investment Dealers’ Digest, National Mortgage News and a host of others, in June. The company first tried selling Thomson Media in 2001 before pulling it off the block citing low valuations and the post-Sept. 11 economic climate.

All parties mentioned either declined comment or could not be reached by press time.

COMPANY: Thomson Corp.

COMPANY: Morgan Stanley

COMPANY: Apprise Media

www.TheDeal.com

Byline: Peter Lauria

At least five buyout shops submitted bids for Thomson Corp.’s group of print-based, advertising-dependent financial magazines Oct. 4, according to sources familiar with the Morgan Stanley-run auction.

Among the bidders are Apprise Media, fronted by former Primedia Inc. president Charles McCurdy and backed by Spectrum Equity Investors; Citigroup Venture Capital in conjunction with former Advanstar CEO Robert Krakoff; the private equity arm of Credit Suisse First Boston along with MidOcean Partners LLP; Investcorp; and U.S. Equity Partners (U.S. Equity Partners is the fund that owns The Deal LLC).

Tuesday, Oct. 5, was the deadline for the second round of bids. Thomson received a first round of offers in August.

Early round participants J.P. Morgan Partners and Veronis Suhler Stevenson are believed to have dropped out .

Sources familiar with the bidding said they could not handicap the action because the values of the latest offers were unclear.

“How do you know who’s up and who’s down without knowing what they bid?” asked one perplexed source.

This source and others did say, however, that based on previous bids the group should sell for at least $250 million. That price would parallel recent magazine industry deal multiples of between 8 and 12 times Ebitda.

Several factors — ranging from the size of Thomson’s platform to the competitiveness of the auction to the pressure on the private equity firms to put their money to work — could goose valuations higher. So, too, could Bruce Wasserstein’s U.S. Equity Partners. (Bruce Wasserstein is the chairman of The Deal LLC.)

“Wasserstein’s the wild card,” said a magazine industry source. Citing the $55 million Wasserstein paid to acquire New York magazine in December 2003, this source said that if Wasserstein wants something bad enough, “he can pay a big price again.” And as the only one in the contingent of known bidders to already have a publishing platform in place, Wasserstein could pay more than the others if only because he can combine Thomson Media with his existing properties to more effectively strip out costs.

Then again, Thomson Media is sizable enough to be its own platform, which a buyer could then use to pursue bolt-on acquisitions. That rationale led one source to caution against counting out Citigroup Venture Capital.

Thomson began shopping the group, which houses such titles as American Banker, The Bond Buyer, Investment Dealers’ Digest, National Mortgage News and a host of others, in June. The company first tried selling Thomson Media in 2001 before pulling it off the block citing low valuations and the post-Sept. 11 economic climate.

All parties mentioned either declined comment or could not be reached by press time.

COMPANY: Thomson Corp.

COMPANY: Morgan Stanley

COMPANY: Apprise Media

www.TheDeal.com

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