Monday, August 09, 2010

Cartwright sale of legal and trade publications is a major shakeup in the magazine industry

Retired Judge Ian Cartwright in Calgary
The decision by former judge Ian Cartwright to sell most of his family holdings in the privately held The Cartwright Group, including Canada Law Book will close a chapter. Cartwright, who believed that Canadian legal data should be controlled in Canada, bought Canada Law Book more than 25 years ago to keep it out of the hands of a foreign-controlled buyer. (Ironically, that is precisely what is happening now in the deal with Thomson Reuters, largely owned outside of Canada.) 
As the principal shareholder in The Cartwright Group, Cartwright is known to have used profits from his publishing operations to be a generous (though largely anonymous) benefactor to such charities at the Sick Children's Hospital Foundation and the Association in the Defence of the Wrongly Convicted*. Now 75, he is apparently planning his estate and wanted to cash out in order to make a "significant and meaningful donation to the charities of his choice".
The decision to sell the remaining b2b titles to Annex Publishing and Printing significantly changes the magazine landscape, essentially removing a major competitor and consolidating those titles in a much bigger company, based outside of the GTA. Annex is based in Simcoe and started out as a publisher of community newspapers but has been steadily launching and acquiring small-scale niche titles for many years. As Niel Hiscox, CLB Media vice-president told Law Times, the CLB titles are complementary as they are not competitive with Annex titles.
*In 2009, Cartwright wrote a personal cheque for $1 million to AIDWYC, even though the group did not have charitable status.

Photo: Chris Bolin, for the Globe and Mail
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Major shakeup, indeed. I don't think anyone will say that this was a surprise, or an unexpected move.

I think that anyone who is "plugged in" to the B2B media biz has been expecting this (or something very similar) for quite awhile now.

CLB Media has suspended publication of many of their properties over the past year and a half (I can count at least eight, and I'm sure there's more). Sure, the economic climate hasn't helped, but it certainly isn't to blame entirely. Poor economy + poor (or absent) leadership, not a healthy mix at all...

On the bright side - I'm sure that alot of CLB talent will become available for other companies to snag.

2:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a very frank comment from someone who apparently knows a lot about CLB.

The remarks with respect to leadership are unfair and inaccurate. It's easy to play armchair quarterback when you're not in the trenches pushing business forward in a meaningful way.

7:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous #2:

The B2B media community is very tight knit. I think the media community overall is very tight knit in general. Everyone knows each other, anyone who's been in the business for a while is relatively closely connected.

Also, major players in the business (such as CLB) are constantly being observed by competitors and industry colleagues alike. As such, being a "major player" - you must expect that your business movements will be somewhat in the public eye. We talk to the same people, and in large part - we work with many of the same vendors.

I appreciate that 2009 was an ugly year, and 2010 hasn't exactly been a big rebound year either. I'm certain that "pockets" of CLB leadership made valiant efforts to push the business forward, but the peculiar decisions being made elsewhere unfortunately had a (much) bigger impact.

10:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the proceeds of the sale of these companies is slated for charities, in particular single mothers in Alberta while the majority of Cartwright employees left without jobs or benefits were long term, hard working single mothers now scrambling to make ends meet.

7:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that your statement may be false, if most of the employees were so "long term" and "hard working" they either would have moved with the company. CLB was also extremely fair in terms of letting people go. I know that many of debts were forgiven. I think that the main reason Ian sold the Cartwright Group was because he wanted to avoid it being an issue with his children.

10:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who knows, CLB was NOT fair in letting go long-term employees. Anonymous #1 - you need to get your facts straight.

1:51 pm  

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