OLD Media Moves

Growth in specialty business publications

June 19, 2008

In a little-noticed deal outside of mainstream business journalism, Haymarket Media Inc. agreed last week to acquire Compliance Week from Boston-based Financial Media Holdings for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to close on July 1.

Compliance WeekCompliance Week is a six-year-old monthly publication that covers corporate governance for executives at public companies. It also puts out a weekly electronic newsletter.

William Pecover, the CEO of Haymarket Media, which is the U.S. subsidiary of the British firm Haymarket Media Group, has been with the company for 20 years, including stints as managing director of Management Today and Campaign. Pecover moved to the States in 2001 to start the U.S. subsidiary, which has since increased its revenue six-fold.

What follows is an edited transcript of a conversation Pecover had about the acquisition and niche business publications with Talking Biz News.

1. Why acquire Compliance Week?

William PecoverWe were attracted by the business model, quality of content and strength of team. The value of the content is demonstrated by the high subscription value and that over 50 percent of revenues come from subscriptions. The business was started with a digital newsletter and has built admirable integrated revenue streams.

When we come across businesses like this we don’t necessarily ask how it fits with our other titles at Haymarket because we already have such a diverse collection. Rather, we look to see what value our management can add, and whether we believe the business is capable of sustained growth.

2. Will content from Compliance Week cross over into other Haymarket publications such as Management Today?

I doubt to any great extent. Synergy is one of the most widely over-used and under-executed terms in publishing. We will certainly be using our other brands to help promote CW, and there may be areas of specific editorial collaboration such as with Secure Computing magazine.

3. How will you expand Compliance Week’s reach?

I am not prepared to go into details.

4. Does this acquisition signal your interest in buying other publications? If so, what kind?

Haymarket is always interested when the right opportunity comes along. Worldwide we have made a number of acquisitions in the last three months in three different countries and three different markets.

5. Mainstream business media are suffering form lower advertising. What’s happening in the specialty business publication area?

Not all mainstream media are suffering. The Economist is up 5 percent. Quality of content is key, and we believe Compliance Week has a great base both in terms of content and a committed senior audience to grow advertising across several revenue streams.

As a general rule for specialty business publications, there is no general rule. Some titles are finding the economy troublesome, while others are having record years. Overall we are having a record year in the U.S.

6. Do you see your publications competing with mainstream business media in any way?

To a limited degree with brands like the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

7. Do your print publications differentiate themselves from their Web sites, or is the idea to have them be complementary?

It depends on the markets as to degree of difference but increasingly the sites do a different job to the print versions.

8. How much breaking news do you provide subscribers to your publications on the Web? Do they pay extra for that?

It depends on markets. At the moment we tend to use breaking news to drive traffic.

9. What do you see in terms of the future of specialty business and management publications?

I see a strong future for specialty titles as long as they offer integrated delivery mechanisms, as individuals need to be increasingly well-informed.

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