£1.3bn bid for Emap business division launched

Private equity firm Apax has made a £1.3bn (€2bn) approach for a major slice of magazines and radio group Emap, it was reported today.

Private equity firm Apax has made a £1.3bn (€2bn) approach for a major slice of magazines and radio group Emap, it was reported today.

Apax wants to buy FHM publisher Emap’s business-to-business division, which publishes trade magazines such as Retail Week as well as producing conferences and exhibitions, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Emap said last week it was considering a potential break-up after receiving “unsolicited proposals” for parts of the business, causing the shares to leap 12%. Both firms were unavailable for comment.

If successful, Apax is likely to merge the business with Incisive Media, the finance and technology publisher it bought last year.

But the private equity firm could also face bids from rivals such as publishers United Business Media and Informa, the newspaper said.

Emap’s business-to-business division is seen as the strongest performer in a company which has been hit in recent years by tougher trading conditions for its consumer magazines and radio business.

While the group’s annual profits for the year to March 31 fell 13% to £193m (€292m), the B2B business increased underlying operating profits by 2% to £93m (€141m) over the period.

A strong showing from the events business and recent acquisitions such as fashion intelligence website WGSN helped offset falling recruitment advertising revenues.

Potential bidders have also been in touch with Emap’s board over buying Emap’s radio business, which features stations such as Magic and Kiss FM, the Sunday Times said.

Global Media Network, the investment vehicle headed by former ITV chief executive Charles Allen, recently bought the Chrysalis radio business and is said to have approached Emap over a possible deal.

The company sold part of its radio operation earlier this month when it agreed to the £135m (€205m) disposal of its Irish radio operations. It will offload national broadcaster Today FM, Dublin’s FM104 and Highland Radio to Dublin-based Communicorp Group.

Emap is still without a chief executive after former head Tom Moloney resigned in May “by mutual agreement”. The firm is currently being led by chairman Alun Cathcart.

Peterborough-based Emap was formed in 1947 as a regional newspaper group but launched Angling Times – its first consumer magazine – in 1953.

The company now publishes 50 lifestyle and specialist consumer magazines, has 42 local and eight national commercial radio stations, seven digital TV channels and organises 400 business-to-business events internationally.

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