Monday, January 26, 2015

Annex Media buys print and digital B2B properties from Glacier Media for $19.7 million

[This post has been updated] The business-to-business magazine media in Canada is significantly altered with the announcement late Friday that Glacier Media Inc. has sold off most of its trade media magazine properties in Toronto-based Business Information Group (BIG) to Annex Business Media and Newcom Business Media for $19.65 million. 

Annex and Newcom now acquire 67 trade publications, related websites and other digital assets, giving it more than 100 properties and an additional 230 employees. With that, what had been the largest privately owned b2b company has made another major leap to become the biggest b2b publishing company in Canada. Annex has a reputation for running very lean operations, sharing such things as production, circulation, digital, administration and sales. 

[Update: Newcom Business Media, which is a family-owned company started in 1987, acquired 18 print and digital publications and two trade shows as part of the deal, including Truck News, Truck West and Motor Truck Fleet Executive. These will now join Newcom's other transport-related titles Today's Trucking, Truck and Trailer and Transport Routier.  Also acquired were Scott's Directories and titles in dental,insurance industries and meetings and travel.
Ownership of the new acquisitions will be evenly distributed between the two companies. “It’s called the Annex-Newcom limited partnership.” Annex CEO Mike Fredericks [told Mastheadonline] “We’re 50/50 partners with Alex Papanou (BIG vp) operating it as our president. We will continue to operate our private companyies—effectively it’s a third company that sits between us.
With the acquisition comes the inevitability of similar titles being in direct competition with each other. “We’re going to take our time to study the marketplace and see what’s best,” Fredericks said. “So in the next number of months it will be business as usual and they will continue to compete with each other.”]
With this transaction, Glacier effectively exits a huge swath of the b2b sector (with the exception of Food In Canada, the Northern Miner and the ERIS environmental data company, which it is keeping.) And in the process it is unloading publications it took over in 2006 in the breakup of Conrad Black's  Hollinger Canadian Newspapers, Limited, of which BIG was a subsidiary. Some of the other titles being sold now to Annex were bought by Glacier in 2011 in a purchase from Rogers Publishing Limited.

Previously, it had acquired some 14 magazines from the breakup of CLB Media, such as Canadian Security and Canadian Electronics.  And, in 2013, Annex bought PrintAction magazine from Youngblood Publishing. 

Based in Simcoe, Annex  started out primarily as a printer (which it continues to be), newspaper and business-to-business publisher when it took over some newspaper and agricultural trade periodicals from Newfoundland Capital Corporation in the late-90s. It has since built a stable of manufacturing/industrial, resources/heavy equipment, agriculture, retail business, professional and commercial services, often through canny or opportunistic acquisitions or identifying gaps in the market. (Most of the newspaper properties were later sold off to Sun Media.) 

Annex's b2b titles had been relatively small circulation, niche titles such as Canadian Pizza, Fruit and Vegetable magazine, Bakers Journal, Canadian Chiropractor, Canadian Security, Helicopters and Canadian Firefighter. Some of the titles it is now acquiring from Glacier are larger and dominant in their sectors, such as Building magazine, Canadian Interiors,  Canadian Architect, Canadian Plastics, Broadcaster and Mediacaster magazines, Pulp & Paper Canada, Canadian Packaging, Truck News and Design Engineering

There have been a flurry of activity in b2b recently, with other takeovers, sales and mergers in b2b, driven in part response to a prolonged  slump in print advertising.  Just before the announcement of the BIG deal, Annex sold Canadian Florist to Strider Media. Kenilworth Publishing Inc. and Kenilworth Media Inc. (Pool & Spa, Sign Media, Jewellery Business) of Richmond Hill was acquired by German-based Forum Media Group. And association and trade publisher Media Edge Publishing, merged with Perks Publications.

Glacier says it is narrowing its focus and pursuing growth in the global agriculture, energy and mining information sectors as well as information sources for mutual funds, environmental data and real estate information. (The company's overall earnings per share growth has been below the industry average and has been declining, which may explain why it decided to sell the trade books.) 

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